Condominium proprietor busted for constructing ‘Being John Malkovich’-like 4th half ground


The true property market in New York has by no means been this tight.

A Decrease East Facet rental proprietor turned his small condominium right into a mini-village — by changing it into an unlawful duplex with 11 sub-units that had ceilings as little as four ¹/₂ toes excessive, officers mentioned Friday.

The unlawful micro residences on Henry Avenue are so cramped that rental proprietor Xue Ping Ni even put up bubble wrap as safety to maintain residents from hitting their heads on the numerous low-hanging pipes.

The weird association — which was raided and shut down Wednesday evening by the town Buildings Division — was in comparison with one thing out of a film.

“That is just like the room out of the film ‘Being John Malkovich,’” mentioned Manhattan Councilman Ben Kallos — a nod to the “seventh half ground” Manhattan workplace within the 1999 indie flick.

“It was humorous in fiction, however a horror story in actual life.”

It wasn’t clear how a lot hire Ni was charging for the tiny items. However the residents there have been stacked like sardines, because the 11 windowless items have been all carved out of the upper-areas of Ni’s single 634-square-foot rental on the constructing’s 4th ground.

The world, the place 9 individuals have been dwelling, additionally had an unlawful toilet, inspectors mentioned.

The tenants have been relocated from the nightmarish fireplace hazard, when Buildings Division inspectors raided the place in response to a 311 criticism, in line with residents and metropolis officers.

A vacate sign on an apartment door in 165 Henry St. on the Lower East Side.
A vacate signal on an condominium door in 165 Henry St. on the Decrease East Facet.William Miller

Inspectors hit Ni with greater than $144,000 in fines for failing to have sprinklers, together with correct electrical, structural and plumbing permits.

When The Put up visited the constructing Friday, a reporter noticed obvious further adjustments to the unit above Ni’s.

Within the second rental, which Ni has listed prior to now as his handle, air con items have been arrange on each the highest and backside of floor-to-ceiling home windows — in a touch that it had been cut up legally.

The DOB declined to analyze the second unit, nevertheless, with no formal 311 or 911 criticism.

“I can’t think about needing that a lot air-conditioning in a single condominium, so if somebody sees this on the road, that ought to be greater than adequate for the Division of Buildings to additionally examine that condominium,” Kallos mentioned.

Cops busted illegal dwellers at 165 Henry St for having an illegal extra floor between.
NYC Division of Buildings

Kallos referred to as on DOB to analyze the fifth ground condominium, too — and ASAP — with or with out receiving a proper criticism.

“I’ve by no means seen air conditioners stacked atop each other like that — 5 air conditioners in three home windows,” mentioned Kallos, upon reviewing a photograph of the constructing’s exterior.

“I can’t think about needing that a lot air-conditioning in a single condominium, so if somebody sees this on the road, that ought to be greater than adequate for the Division of Buildings to additionally examine that condominium.”

On Friday, a resident of the complicated at 165 Henry St., mentioned short-term tenants have been consistently coming and going.

“It was revolving door of individuals,” mentioned a girl who pays $2,800 per thirty days for a one bed room condominium on the sixth ground. She has lengthy suspected the constructing was harmful.

“There use to be plenty of evacuation notices. I simply requested [management] if the constructing is secure as a result of we’re paranoid and so they mentioned nothing about it,” the resident mentioned. “The items are all arrange actual otherwise. This was a rabbinical faculty.”

Officers slammed the set-up as a life-threatening hazard.

“Each New Yorker deserves a secure and authorized place to reside, which is why we’re dedicated to routing out harmful firetraps and ordering the landlords to make these residences secure,” DOB spokesman Andrew Rudansky mentioned.

“Tenants dwelling in truncated and windowless dwelling items like this poses an excessive hazard to their security, in addition to the security of their neighbors, and first responders – a hazard that can not be tolerated in our metropolis.”

Catherine Keener and John Cusack in "Being John Malkovich"
Catherine Keener and John Cusack in “Being John Malkovich”©USA Movies/Courtesy Everett Col

He added, “We’re holding this landlord accountable for his or her egregious failure to maintain the constructing secure and livable for tenants.”

In metropolis information, the complicated is listed as a 5-story constructing with 27 authorized residences.

Ni couldn’t be reached on the constructing for remark Friday.

Within the fantasy movie “Being John Malkovich,” a failing puppeteer performed by John Cusack discovers a portal into the thoughts of actor John Malkovich whereas interviewing for a job on the “7 half ground” of an workplace on Sixth Avenue in Manhattan.

Extra reporting by Natalie O’Neill