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Everyone on my block, myself included, recently got permit violations for no garage and garage removed, but we don't understand.

Staten Island, NY |

These are all legal mother/daughters and were all built the same exact way. Every house on this block has a "half garage" that is not large enough for a car and behind the wall (looking in from the outside) is a bedroom. That bedroom has it's own private entrance, it's own gas and electric meter, and we each pay property taxes as a 2 fam house. We have not chagned it at all.

THe inspectors keep coming around to try to get inside to look, but I have never been home, so they leave notes on my door. Do I need to make arrangements to let them in if I have not done anything wrong? I have not changed the house from the way it was sold to me by the builder 20 years ago. What are they looking for and what should be my concerns?

Is this something a lawyer helps with?

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Attorney answers 2

Best Answer
Posted

FIrstly, there is no such legal term as a "mother-daughter". A "mother-daughter" house is, essentially, a legal one family house together with an illegal apartment. Building Department Inspectors are entrusted with investigating illegal conditions. Do you have to let them in? No you do not. You will then likely be cited with a violation for "failure to provide access". An Inspector may procure a search warrant if they choose to do so, but they normally will go that route only if it appears that a condition exists that presents a risk to person or property. Whetehr you changed it is really not the issue. The issue is whether someone who preceded you changed the house and did so without the approval of the Department of Buildings. Rather than a lawyer, it would seem that you really need to engage an architect.

Asker

Posted

Nobody preceded me, I purchased my home directly from the builder. Should my attorney have advised me, 20 years ago, that I was buying a legal one family house together with an illegal apartment? I know it is impossible to prove (and maybe impossible to believe), but I really did not know. In fact, in the very beginning, it really was my mother living in that apartment! (now it's a tenant). Many of my neighbors are in the same boat. Several of us were represented by the same lawyer, who is still working on Staten Island. Should we go back to him to complain and/or sue him for not properly representing us?

Vincent J. Gallo

Vincent J. Gallo

Posted

WHat's the address?

Asker

Posted

I'd rather not say here, since you and all your peers will obviously be able to quickly figure out who my attorney was.

Vincent J. Gallo

Vincent J. Gallo

Posted

Just offering to gratuitously help.

Asker

Posted

And I certainly appreciate that. Is this the type of case you would take? Do you charge for a consultation?

Vincent J. Gallo

Vincent J. Gallo

Posted

If you wish, contact my Office and I will give you guidance.

Posted

The way it was sold to you has no bearing on whether it is legal or not. It was common practice 20 years ago to build what amounted to illegal apartments and sell them. It is likely that the original building plans did not include the apartment and even though you are being taxed as a two family, the certificate of occupancy was probably issued as a one family dwelling with garage. This amounts to an illegal garage conversion. You would either have to get a permit to convert it to a legal 2 family dwelling, or get a mother daughter permit if a family member is living in the space or return it to a garage.

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