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Queens building owner jailed for contempt of court charges.

Queens Housing Court Judge Gilbert Badillo ordered the incarceration of building owner Henry Davis for contempt of the court's order to restore heat, hot water and electricity to his tenant's apartment. City sheriffs took the landlord to the Brooklyn House of Detention on March 5. The litigation was brought by the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) as a result of tenant complaints.

HPD argued that Davis deprived his tenant at 90-29 202 Street in Queens of electricity, heat and hot water for months. The court issued an order for Davis to restore heat, hot water and electricity in November 2002 and issued a Warrant for Civil Contempt in January 2003 due to his lack of compliance.

Davis claimed that he did not have the funds to comply with the order, but did not substantiate his lack of funds. Therefore, HPD recommended that Davis be incarcerated until the order is complied with and that the building owner be brought before the court in one week on March 12 for further assessment.

HPD's Emergency Service Bureau (ESB) had attempted to access the premises to restore essential services but was denied access by the owner. Since the incarceration of Davis, ESB repaired the boiler, supplied fuel, and restored electricity to the tenant's apartment. The cost of the emergency repairs will be billed to the owner and becomes a tax lien on the property if the owner does not pay.

HPD initiated 2,178 heat and hot water cases in fiscal year 2002 to enforce building owners' obligation to provide 24-hour heat whenever the outdoor temperature warrants it and hot water at all times. "Landlords who continue to violate the law will be brought into court," said HPD Commissioner Jerilyn Perine.
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Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 19, 2003
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