Bureau of Housing Inspection v. Scardelli

OAL Docket No. CAF 3385-96 (Department of Community Affairs 1997)
  • Opinion Date: March 17, 1997

MULTIPLE DWELLINGS—Landlord is penalized for failing to cure violations that result from a tenant’s refusal to comply with safety regulations.

The landlord received an inspection report from the Bureau of Housing Inspection detailing various violations of the Hotel and Multiple Dwelling Law in the apartment building he owned. Upon reinspection, those violations were found to be unabated and the landlord was fined $1,000.00. The landlord claimed that after the first inspection report, he abated all violations, but shortly thereafter, the tenants refused to comply with the safety requirements. For example, a tenant had a dresser that had to be moved since it blocked egress from the apartment. The landlord claimed that he made sure it was moved, but that once he was gone, the tenant put it back where it was. The landlord claimed that this behavior was beyond his control, and therefore, he should not be responsible for payment of the fine. The Administrative Law Judge did not believe that the violations were abated by the landlord in the first place, and ruled that regardless, the landlord, as owner of the property, landlord could not evade the responsibility of insuring tenant compliance with safety codes. The judge also concluded that the fines levied were reasonable. These findings were adopted by the Commissioner without modification, and the landlord was ordered to abate all violations and pay the full amount of the fine.