A History of Tenement House Legislation in New York 1852-1900 Part IV
 

By Lawrence Veiller
 
 
ENTRY TO TENEMENT OR LODGING HOUSES__RIGHTS OF PUBLIC OFFICIALS. The first tenement house act provides very specifically that all public officials, sanitary inspectors and others, charged with the duty of enforcing the health laws or the tenement house lawn, shall have the right of entry to all buildings in the performance of their duties, and the owner, lessee and occupant of every tenement house is especially charged to give such officials free access to their house and to every part of it. This has remained the law unchanged since it was originally enacted.

(1867) — Chapter 908, Section 10.

"The keeper of any lodging house, and the owner, agent of the owner, lessee, and occupant -of any tenement-house, and every other person having the care or management thereof shall at all times, when required by any officer of the Metropolitan board of health or by any officer upon whom any duty or authority, is conferred by this act, give him free access to such house and to every part thereof."

(1882) — Chapter 410, Section 658 —-Continued.

(1887) — Chapter 84, Section 8. — Continued.

(1888)—Brooklyn — Chapter 583, Section 32. (Brooklyn Consol.Act.) Provisions of the Law of 1867, reenacted.

*(1897) — Chapter 378, Greater New York Charter, Section 1314.

"The keeper of any lodging-house, and the owner, agent of the owner, lessees or occupant of any tenement-house, and every other person having the care and management thereof, shall, at all times, when required by any officer of the department of health, or by any officer upon whom any duty is conferred by this title, give him free access to such house, and to every part thereof."

INSPECTION OF TENEMENT HOUSES AT REGULAR INTERVALS


In 1887, in the amended tenement house act, it was provided that the Board of Health should make a regular semi-annual inspection of every tenement and lodging house in the city ; and also that whenever any order had been made by the Board of Health concerning a tenement or lodging house, a reinspection of the building should be made within six days after the Board of Health was informed that the order had been complied with. This is the present law upon the subject with the exception that the Charter requires that such reinspection shall be made within six days after the order is served, instead of waiting for notice that it has been complied with.

(1887) — Chapter 84. Section 8.

"It shall be the duty of the board of health to cause a careful inspection to be made of every tenement or lodging-house at least twice in each year. And whenever the board of health has made any order concerning a tenement or lodging-house, it shall cause a re-inspection to be made of the same within six days after it has been informed that the order has been obeyed."

*(1897) — Chapter 378, Greater New York Charter, Section 1314.

Continued with the following change: Last word " obeyed " changed to " served."

POSTING OF OWNER'S NAME. — The first tenement house law required, among other things, that the name of the owner and also of the agent of every tenement house should be posted in a conspicuous place in the public hall or on the entrance door of every tenement house. This requirement was enacted so as to facilitate the work of the Health Department in the service of papers upon the responsible persons. It was also felt that the publicity thus given would have the effect of making owners of tenement houses more careful in their management, and would prevent them from allowing the buildings to get out of repair and prevent the buildings from being kept in an improper condition. The law in 1887 was considerably changed and very much strengthened, the new law requiring that, instead of posting the owner's name on the door of the house, every owner of a tenement house or lodging-house or any person having control of it, should file in the Department of Health a statement containing his name and address, also a description of the property by street number, or in such other way as would readily identify it; also the number of apartments in each building, the number of rooms in each apartment, the number of families occupying each apartment and the trades or occupations carried on in them; and it was further provided, in the same law, that all notices and orders of the Board of Health in reference to tenement or lodging-houses should be deemed sufficiently served if a copy of the notice or order was posted in a conspicuous place in the house, and also if an additional copy was mailed to the owner of the building at the address given in his statement filed at the Board of Health. This law was amended in 1895 by a further provision, requiring that in case of a transfer of any tenement or lodging house, the name of the now owner should be filed with the Board of Health within thirty days, and imposing a penalty of from $10 to $50 for a failure to file such notice. These provisions of the laws of 1895 and of 1887 have been reenacted in the Charter and are the present law (in 1900) upon the subject.

(1867) — Chapter 908, Section 9.

"Every tenement or lodging-house shall have legibly posted or painted on the wall or door in the entry, or some public accessible place, the name and address of the owner or owners, and of the agent or agents, or any one having charge of the renting and collecting of the rents for the same; and service of any papers required by this act or by any proceedings to enforce any of its provisions, or of the acts relating to the Metropolitan board of health, or the department for the survey and inspection of buildings shall be sufficient if made upon the person or persons so designated as owner or owners, agent or agents."

(1882) — Chapter 410, Section 657. — Continued.

(1887)—Chapter 84, Section 7. (Previous provision repealed, and the following new section enacted.)

"Every owner of a tenement or lodging-house, and every person having control of a tenement or lodging-house, shall file in the board of health a notice containing his name and address, and also a description of the property by street number, or otherwise as the case may be, in such manner as will enable the board of health easily to find the same; and also the number of apartments in each house, the number of rooms in each apartment, the number of families occupying each apartment and the trades or occupations carried on therein. Every person claiming to have an interest in any tenement or lodging-house may file his name and address in the department of health. All notices and orders of the board of health required by law to be served in relation to a tenement or lodging-house shall be served by posting in some conspicuous place in the house, a copy of the notice or order, five days before the time for doing the thing in relation to which said notice or order was issued. The posting of a copy of an order or notice, in accordance with this section, shall be sufficient service upon the owner of the property affected. It shall be the duty of the board of health to cause a copy of every such notice or order to be mailed, on the same day that it is posted in the house, addressed to the name and address of each person who has filed with the department of health, the notice provided for in this section."

(1888) —Brooklyn — Chapter 583, Section 31. (Brooklyn Consol. Act.) Provisions of Law of 1867, reenacted.


(1895) —Chapter 567, Section 6. (Provisions of Chapter 84, Section 7, of the LaWs of 1887, continued with the following new clause added.)

"In case of a transfer of any tenement-house, or lodging-house, it shall be the duty of the grantor and grantee of said tenement or lodging-house to file in the department of health a notice of such transfer stating the name of the new owner within thirty days after such transfer. In case of the devolution of said property by will, it shall be the duty of the executor and of the devisee, if more than twenty-one years of age, and in case of the devolution of such property by inheritance without a will, it shall be the duty of the heirs, or in case all of the heirs are under age, it shall be the duty of the guardians of such heirs, and in case said heirs
have no guardians, it shall be the duty of the administrator of the deceased owner of said property to file in said department a notice stating the death of the deceased owner and the names of those who have succeeded to his interest in said property, within thirty days after the death of said decedent in case he died intestate, and within thirty days after the probate
of his will, if he died testate. A failure to file such notice shall make said property and the owners thereof liable to a penalty of not less than $10 nor more than $50. Said penalty may be collected in the manner prescribed in section 665 of this act"

*(1897) — Chapter 378, Greater New York Charter, Section 1313. —Continued.

OWNER'S RESPONSIBILITY'. — The main responsibility for compliance with the different provisions of the tenement house acts has been in all cases placed upon the owner of the tenement house primarily, and after him on the lessee of the whole house rather than upon the occupant of the individual apartment or set of rooms. The first tenement house act contained a provision to this effect, and such provision has been continued in all succeeding acts. It was also provided in this tenement house law that if the date of the erection of a tenement house should become a material fact in any proceeding on the part of the Health Department to enforce the law, it should be the duty of the owner to prove the date of the erection of the building and not the duty of the Board of Health.

(1867) — Chapter 908, Section 16.

"In every proceeding for a violation of this act, and in every such action for a penalty, it shall be the duty of the owner of the house to prove the date of its erection or conversion to its existing use, if that fact shall become material, and the owner shall be prima facie, the person liable to pay such penalty, and after him the person who is the lessee of the whole house, in preference to the tenant or lessee of a part thereof. In any such action the owner, lessee and occupant or any two of them, may be made defendants, and judgment may be given against the one or more shown to be liable, as if he or they were sole defendant or defendants."

(1879) —Chapter 504, Section 6.

"In every proceeding for a violation of this act, and in every such action for a penalty, the owner shall be prima facie, the person liable to pay such a penalty, and after him the person who is the lessee of the whole house, in preference to the tenant or lessee of a part thereof. In any such action the owner, lessee and occupant or any two of them may be made defendants, and judgment may be given against the one or more shown to be liable as if he or they were sole defendant or defendants."

 

Website: The History Box.com
Article Name: A History of Tenement House Legislation in New York 1852-1900 Part IV
Researcher/Transcriber Miriam Medina

Source:

BIBLIOGRAPHY: The Tenement House Problem; Including the Report of the New York State Tenement House Commission of 1900. By Various Writers; The MacMillan Company-New York 1903
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