Zebrowski & Brooks Legislation to Hold Unscrupulous Building Owners Accountable Signed into Law

Assemblyman Ken Zebrowski (D-Rockland) and Senator John Brooks (D-Long Island) announced today that their legislation to create a new penalty on building owners who make alterations that impede egress has been signed into law by the Governor (A3343/S1714). In the last few years, there has been a proliferation of illegally converted buildings including alterations that can create a dangerous situation for both residents and first responders when trying to exit or enter in the event of a fire or emergency. 

The Zebrowski/Brooks law creates a new penalty of up to $7,500 for illegal alterations that impede egress. Building owners will be subject to penalties if easy entrance/exit is not accessible during an emergency evacuation, a violation of the uniform fire prevention and building code. By imposing higher fines, the bill seeks to deter unscrupulous individuals from creating unsafe conditions. 

"We unfortunately have seen this situation play out one too many times in our community and we must establish some accountability before it's too late and a tragedy occurs. First responders put themselves at risk every time they answer the call. Their lives, and the lives of innocent residents, shouldn't be second fiddle to making an extra buck. Building owners that put profit over people must be held accountable and this law looks to do just that," said Assemblyman Zebrowski.

“As a volunteer firefighter, I know all too well the danger of buildings converted into illegal apartments without regard for human life, if a fire occurred, there is often no way to escape! This bill will ensure the safety of our residents and first responders is placed over any profits gained from these illegal conversions,” said Senator Brooks.

Assemblyman Zebrowski has worked closely with local and statewide firefighters on several pieces of legislation relating to fire safety, building code violations, and illegal structures. This legislation has widespread support among first responders, including The Firemen’s Association of the State of New York (FASNY).

“Firefighting is an inherently dangerous job, filled with unknowns and risks,” said Firemen’s Association of the State of New York (FASNY) President John Farrell. “Illegal and dangerous building modifications add to the challenges our members face at emergency scenes.We are very grateful to Assemblyman Zebrowski and Senator Brooks for their leadership on this legislation. We hope this will serve as a deterrent to unscrupulous property owners who make illegal modifications with no regard for the safety of the occupants or emergency responders.”

The law goes into effect immediately.