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Illegal East Northport Apartment Ordered Back to Code

Judge orders landlord to convert multi-family to single; taxpayers could be asked to front money for conversion.

A Suffolk County District Court judge has ordered an absentee landlord to restore an illegal multi-family apartment in East Northport back to a single-family state.

Acting on a case brought by the Town of Huntington, Judge C. Stephen Hackeling ordered landlord Vincent Piemonte of Northport to convert an illegal three-apartment building back into its legal single family occupancy after a two day trial in mid-June. The illegal apartment, located at 172 Vernon Valley Road, was reported to authorities by a neighbor in April 2011.

The judge ordered the conversion back to a single family home despite the house currently being listed as a two-family duplex on the town property information website. As Town Spokesman AJ Carter explains, the owner got permission from the Zoning Board of Appeals to convert the house into a legal two-family years ago, but was required to complete certain steps by a deadline. The assessor’s record was adjusted to reflect the ZBA action, however, the owner did not complete those necessary steps within the deadline, so the permission expired.

Technically, the house was never officially converted to a legal two, which is why the judge ordered it returned to a single-family state.

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Judge Hackeling appointed Randy J. Schaefer, an attorney with the law firm Silverman & Associates in Jericho, as receiver. Schaefer will have the authority to collect and hold the rents from the tenants in the hopes that Piemonte will have less incentive to delay the conversion. Schaefer is also charged with ensuring that the house is brought into compliance with Town codes and that the tenants leave--either willfully or through eviction.

One tenant Patch spoke with on Friday held out eleven letters addressed to "Occupant #6" sent from the law firm Silverman Acampora LLP and said she pays $1,600 a month in rent to Piemonte. According to the town, what happens to the rent money is up to the judge.

If Piemonte does not restore the house on his own, Schaeffer can ask the Town to advance the funding for the restoration, with the cost tacked on the property tax bill. 

The Town did not say how many illegal apartments are estimated to exist in the Town of Huntington. However, Town Spokesperson AJ Carter said the town addresses alleged illegal apartments through its Public Safety Department code enforcement division, receives complaints about illegal apartments, and investigates and works with property owners to bring the houses into compliance.

In the cases of property owners who do not cooperate, the code enforcement division refers matters to the Town Attorney’s office for prosecution. Occasionally, the town has to obtain search warrants to enter properties and confirm illegal apartments, in other cases, owners allow the Town into the premises without warrants.

“This is an important decision that should send a message to all absentee landlords with illegal multi-family rentals that the Town will prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law," Town Supervisor Frank P. Petrone said of the Town's victory, "and that the Courts will act aggressively."

Ranger Sewer July 03, 2012 at 01:16 PM
There has to be more to this story that the Honorable Hackeling knows about that is not in the story because the first question I would have is then Who in the TOH "Owns" a home or are all homes in TOH now owned by the TOH and we just pay "Rent " via Property Taxes to the town? Was there as per the 4th Amendment "Probable Cause" ? Like I said, I think there is more to the story.
Milt Galvis July 03, 2012 at 04:20 PM
One illegal home...well I guess that's the County's quota for a month...or this year ? Pitiful, and Tax Payers see through this, too !
Raymond July 03, 2012 at 05:45 PM
I agree with that statement. Most of the illegal apartments are not considered on the tax rolls as they relate to the school districts and taht is not fare to all of us who have single family residences. Another proble, offstreet parking. Three apartments can mean three to six cars minimum. Most important is life safety. Means of egress and fire separation is never considered in a single family residence so to truly convert them is difficult. If one f these buildings burns down, how does the insurance company pay out if is a single family residence convered to two or three. I think many landlords take a huge risk by renting illegal units. I reallize long Island is a very tough place to live financially. I guess this is an issue that will never truly go away. There is an absolute need for people to have affordable housing but they should not risk their lives doing it.
Linda Otta July 03, 2012 at 07:26 PM
Homes are affordable. Taxes are not. Building more apartments (shoe boxes really) and calling them affordable ($2500-$3300 on average to RENT) is a lie.
2 Turn Tables July 03, 2012 at 08:25 PM
The Huntington School District should change the school mascot from a Blue Devil to The Huntington "Illegal apartments", since they are so plentiful. Pink elephant in the room. Jefferson Elementary has 30 non-English speaking kids coming in to K next year. How much do you want to make a bet, out of those 30, in 1 school, live in a dwelling like that above. Short changing the people that pay their taxes. Then you have the mentally ill defending illegal immigration, which in turn translates to illegal housing, and a dilution of services.
Joe L July 04, 2012 at 03:37 AM
The 3-family home next-door to me is still playing loud music....at 11:36pm. SHUFSD is flooded with new kids every year who just "appear" in different grades.
Toniann Mangan July 04, 2012 at 10:37 AM
Wow! They got ONE illegal house? Come to Huntington Station. Or is it just acceptable here?
2 Turn Tables July 04, 2012 at 01:53 PM
Remember Toniann, in Huntington, we have aged hippies on 30mgs of Prozac thinking it's a wonderful party of diversity! Northport is more mainstream.
Laura Bart July 04, 2012 at 02:40 PM
I just had the town inspector come into my home and I am on the tax payrolls with a legal accessory. Why do I go through all of this, when there are so many others who cheat? Sound familiar? I actually was glad when they pointed out a potential fire hazard I had not considered. Maybe thats a good reason to be legal. We should find an incentive for homeowners to be legal, and work together with the town instead of having this adversarial relationship.
TM July 04, 2012 at 07:50 PM
Or the legal 1 family house that has 3 to 4 apartments in it next to my old house where family still lives. They took down fences and us the the backyard to park all the cars off the street. The whole house looks like a bomb went off in the front of it. Maybe town officials should drive around Huntington and write up houses that should be condemned. Also, they need to look at school records of children. If there are 10 kids with the same address at a single family home, that means it's not single family. Start cleaning Huntington up that way first before laying bricks on the sidewalk.
2 Turn Tables July 04, 2012 at 08:14 PM
TM. What you are saying is logical, and makes too much sense to be acted upon. Here it is brass tacks. If you have an issue with multi-family housing, which again, puts a strain on services for those who pay taxes, you will be branded a racist, and intolerant. We are a country of laws. If you give someone a speeding ticket, or a summons for making a right turn on red, where you are not permitted, then you should ensure that those occupying residences are doing so legally. You can not follow certain laws, as this particular POTUS does, and Frank Petrone, who years back, constructed a workers station, with tax payer money, catering to the mobs of undocumented/illegal day laborers used by local landscapers, GC's and painters, who still charge a hefty price, whilst paying .20/$1 to the undocumented workers, who in turn flood the schools with their kids, not paying into the system one bit. Those undocumented workers have to live somewhere. Sorry of the tangent, but I had to go full circle with this. ;)
Free 2B Me July 05, 2012 at 03:10 AM
. Please let me help send a wake up call here... who is calling the IRS on these people??? I will bet a bundle the illegal renter was not declaring his/her illegal income. These illegal apartments wreck our schools, blight our communities, and... simply put... is stealing. This is not a question of the need for afordable housing, keep your housing agenda to a different blog. Plain and simple. this is stealng and tax evasion. It won't stop until the punishment fits the crime. I said it cause I am Free 2B... me. .
2 Turn Tables July 05, 2012 at 10:53 AM
Yes, Free2B Me. I do know someone who tried that tactic, and nothing happened. Amazingly enough. What I do know is, there is a form from the IRS to rat someone out. He filled it out, and faxed it back to the IRS. If you have not declared an amount that is over a certain percentage of your income, and it is over a 10 year period, it is considered felonious embezzlement, and you are looking at jail time if it is not paid to the IRS. However, in the one instance, this guy claimed he filled out the form and claimed to have faxed it to the IRS. Years later, there is still in illegal apartment on his block. Now on the other hand. You are a racist. You want to kick migrant workers and illegal aliens out of their homes. How dare you! You just want to live in your white world without diversity. No tolerance whatsoever, and it is crying shame. Who cares if services are being diluted, taxes imploding, schools offering 1/2 day for K because of the number of illegal students. 30 non-English speaking kids going to Jefferson Elementary Kindergarden this year. That is almost 2 full Kindergarden classes, not a word of English. It doesn't matter if your kid is getting short changed.
Jeanette Marinese November 17, 2012 at 05:59 PM
This is happening all over Long Island. I complained to friends in Nassau County about my street in Huntington. There are three absentee landlord owned homes (one a legal two made into a three because they are renting the cellar, one a cape with two apartments, one rented to a group who claim to be cousins) right across from me as well as three owner occupied accessory apartment one familiy (now two) homes. This on a block of 12 houses. My friends tell me they are encountering the same issues where they live and they are afraid to speak up because they fear reprisals from some of these landlords. I understand this as one of the absentee landlords (who I had received a copy of my written complaint about his property) made it clear that he would rent to a low element if I continued to complain. I had complained about the number of people coming and going and the flotilla of parked cars on our street day and night. I think it's time for a news agency such as the New York Times (who had written about croweded housing in the Hamptons) to address this situation. It is, indeed, tax evasion and a strain on our resources. We have no sewers in this area, our schools are expensive, and our houses are diminished in value because of the lack of will to change this on the part of our town governments..

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