The Difference Between Violations and Complaints

In New York City, anyone can make a complaint about a building via anonymous call to 311 or through the online portal for 311. If the Department of Buildings (DOB) investigates the complaint, there are several potential outcomes. One of those outcomes is a formal DOB-ECB violation.

Tenants and the public can make complaints for a number of issues

There are dozens of potential reasons a tenant or the public can file an anonymous complaint about a property. While the DOB does not give specific timeframes for following up on complaints, they do assess priorities based on the severity of the issue. This list of DOB complaint categories is a good guide to the various complaints and their priority.

A complaint remains open until it is resolved

Inspectors do not always visit a site right away. The complaint will remain on the DOB’s records until an investigator can arrive onsite to investigate it. There are then two potential outcomes. One, the DOB inspector can close the complaint due to lack of evidence for an infraction. Two, they can close the complaint, but issue a DOB-ECB violation.

The impact of violations and complaints is different

There are a few main differences in the way violations and complaints impact a property. First, there is nothing a property owner or manager can do to close out a complaint. They must wait for the DOB investigation or for it to be closed administratively. Conversely, when a violation is issued, the owner or manager is able to take steps to resolve the violation and have it removed.

Second, an open complaint does not have any bearing on whether or not a Certificate of Occupancy is issued and should not have an impact on the sale or refinancing of a property. An open violation is different in that with most violations, a Certificate of Occupancy will not be issued until the violation is satisfied. As a result, the property can likely not be sold and the owner cannot refinance.

Violations on PropertyShark

If you’re interested in a NYC property, you can easily check on PropertyShark if there are any outstanding complaints or violations associated with it. The building’s history of violations and complaints can also be research, you only need to open the building’s full property report and select the Violations tab. Data pertaining to HPD violations, HPD litigation and HPD charges, as well as HPD complaints, DOB complaints, DOB violations, as well as ECB violations is all aggregated here.

Eliza Theiss

Eliza Theiss

Eliza Theiss is a senior writer reporting real estate trends in the US. Her work has been cited by CBS News, Curbed, The Los Angeles Times, and Forbes among others. With an academic background in journalism, Eliza has been covering real estate since 2012. Before joining PropertyShark, Eliza was an associate editor at Multi-Housing News and Commercial Property Executive. Eliza writes for both PropertyShark and CommercialEdge. Reach her at [email protected]