More than 40 may be removed from unsafe apartments in Spring Valley

Rockland Office of Codes Director Ed Markunas at 17 Ridge Ave. in Spring Valley, May 19, 2022 Photo/Peter Carr The Journal News

“Rockland building inspectors have threatened to remove tenants from a Ridge Avenue apartment house littered with unsafe conditions while levying a nearly $40,000 fine against another landlord for violations of state fire and building codes.

The double-barreled enforcement continues a crackdown since February on unsafe buildings. The state deputized the county government in November to inspect and prosecute violations in Spring Valley after many years of dysfunctional enforcement.

The 20-apartment complex at 17 Ridge Ave. was the latest property cited.

Ed Markunas, who heads the Rockland Office of Building and Codes, estimated more than 40 people live in the complex. While nobody has been evicted yet, they would potentially be left homeless if action is not taken by the landlord in the next two weeks.

Violations report: Rockland Office of Building Codes issues violations on 17 Ridge Ave., in Spring Valley

Takeover: Rockland targets Spring Valley buildings with severe problems, sets moratorium on permits

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State Acts: Monitors to oversee building departments in Ramapo, Spring Valley

Inspectors issued the owner 27 violations centering on a structure unfit for occupancy. The two-story yellowish building off Route 59 has 10 apartments on each level and a basement.

“We have zero tolerance for greedy landlords who put profit before people, and I pledge to hold this irresponsible property owner accountable.”

Rockland County Executive Ed Day

Rockland officials said a March 28 inspection found floors sagging and sloping, fire escapes that did not reach the ground, fire-protection doors that did not close to prevent the spread of fire and smoke, and an absence of smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. The walls, stairs, and masonry had cracks, officials said, among other violations. Electrical hazards were found throughout the building.

“We deemed the building unsafe, based upon a detailed inspection,” said Markunas, who described the conditions on Thursday, noting a squirrel came out of a hole in the building.

Markunas said he doesn’t know when the building had been last inspected — or if inspected — by Spring Valley, but apartment buildings need to be inspected every three years. “I cannot find a document of an inspection from the Village of Spring Valley,” Markunas said. The village said it turned over all its records to the county after the state ordered the takeover.

The county posted notices Tuesday on 17 Ridge Ave. and its apartment doors, notifying tenants the building is unsafe. 

The property needs to be repaired, vacated or demolished within 15 days, Markunas said. The Rockland Department of Social Services and other agencies have interviewed some tenants and are available to assist in placing residents who are unable to relocate on their own.

Owner faces deadline to make repairs

The property owners, Abraham and Sarah Mandlovic of Milton Place in Spring Valley, declined to comment Thursday.

Markunas said Abraham Mandlovic told an inspector the building’s condition hasn’t changed since he bought the property 26 years ago under A&S Realty LLC. The price was $626,000 on April 30, 1997, according to the Ramapo Tax Assessor’s Office website.

“If that’s so,” Markunas said of the building remaining unchanged since 1997, “why didn’t Spring Valley observe these violations. We are finding violations existed in these places for years.”

Abraham Mandlovic has supposedly hired an engineer to look at the structural issues. He also owns other properties in Spring Valley up for inspection, Markunas said.”

Read the complete Journal News coverage here.