He Didn’t Break any Rules. New York City Is Demanding He Pay a Fine Anyway
People should be horrified to learn that Serafim Katergaris, a New York City resident, was forced to pay a fine to the city for a code violation he not only didn’t commit but had no way of knowing about. But while Katergaris has the means to fight grasping city officials and may ultimately win in court, his Kafkaesque ordeal is no isolated incident. The city’s building regulations have long been used to victimize the innocent and to fill government coffers while also lining the pockets of city officials.
“Serafim Katergaris was forced to pay $1,000 to the New York Department of Buildings (DOB) for a code violation he did not commit, did not know about and had no chance to challenge,” notes the Institute for Justice (IJ), which is representing the Harlem property owner. “New York City requires property owners with certain kinds of boilers to have their boilers inspected annually and then file a report with the city regarding the inspection. When Serafim bought a home in Harlem in 2014, it did not have a boiler. The previous owner had removed it earlier that year, with the necessary permits and documentation filed with the DOB post-removal. However, the previous owner did not file an inspection report the year before he removed the boiler—something Serafim did not know because the DOB did not assess the violation until after he had purchased the property.”
City officials wouldn’t even allow Katergaris to argue that he shouldn’t be held accountable for a paperwork violation on a boiler he had never owned or even seen. They allowed no appeal of the alleged violation and fine. His response was to cough up the money to allow the pending sale of the property to a new owner to proceed, and to file suit against the city in federal court.
That byzantine code requirements and resulting penalties are common in New York City is obvious from the fact that IJ also represents Queens resident Joe Corsini in a separate lawsuit over rules enforcement around a pigeon coop. And it’s not difficult to find yet more examples of unjust enforcement that seem designed to harass and impose unnecessary expense.
“Some of the toughest punishments have had less to do with property owners’ flouting safety rules than with their confusion over how to respond to that first ticket. Any delay or misstep can lead to a series of fines that will snowball until the owner certifies that the violation has b
Article from Reason.com