Updated 03/10/2010 09:43 PM
The Queens district attorney’s office is looking into claims that someone is filing numerous false complaints against property owners in the borough through 311. NY1’s Ruschell Boone filed the following report.
Calling a complaint that there is an illegal first floor conversion in her home on 28th Avenue “completely fictitious,” a Queens homeowner — who did not want to be identified — says she found out about the complaint a few days ago after neighbors said last year someone phoned in similar complaints about their property to 311.
“We found out that back in October hundreds of homes were given complaint notifications and now the buildings department is coming around,” said the homeowner.
Three blocks away on 25th Avenue, homeowner Billy Colangelo said DOB inspectors have been to his house twice.
“I bought the house a little over five years ago and we didn’t change anything. So if everything was legal then I don’t know what happened to make it illegal now,” Colangelo said.
Many of Colangelo’s neighbors say they too have received complaints about problems they don’t believe exist.
“Some of the homes cited for having an illegal conversion of the basements didn’t even have a basement. Some of the building locations, we pulled them up with block and lot numbers, where the buildings had been demolished and there were no longer homes on the properties being listed,” said City Councilman Dan Halloran.
Halloran and dozens of residents in Flushing, Whitestone and Malba say they believe two construction companies are calling the complaints in as a way to drum up business.
“They were coming around handing out construction cards to the people that got the violations to get the contract.
NY1 reached out to both companies for comment. One said residents had no proof and denied making the calls. The other said it was aware of the claims, but it too denied the allegations.
The Queens district attorney’s office says it’s looking into the matter. The New York City Department of Investigation says it too is aware of the issue but had no other comment.
While the complaints are being looked at, homeowners say they want the Department of Buildings to halt inspections of their homes until the matter is resolved. But the agency says complaints like these have to be investigated to ensure public safety.
Residents, meanwhile, say they just want the city to get to the bottom of the issue.