March 5, 2020 By Allie Griffin
A quiet Kew Gardens home was illegally converted into a dormitory-style, transient hotel with as many as four bunk beds to a room over the summer — and the law-breaking homeowner was slapped with more than $100,000 in violations.
The two-family home, located at 121-08 84th Ave., was converted to a six-family home with three units on the first floor and three more in the attic level, according to Department of Buildings (DOB) summons.
The homeowner, Edward J. Erhard IV, was issued with 12 summonses and fined $108,500 for the violations. At a hearing in late January, a judge upheld the charges — which include illegal conversion of occupancy and illegal construction without permits — and ordered Erhard to pay the large sum.
Complaints of the illegal hotel operation date back to July 2018 with neighbors stating as many as 16 to 18 people were staying at the two-family house, according to DOB records.
Rooms within the house, which sits on a residential tree-lined block, were advertised on Facebook, according to the complaints.
When an inspector was finally able to enter the building on July 11, 2019 with the help of law enforcement, he found several long-term and transient renters sharing rooms within the house — with as many as three people to a room, according to hearing testimony.
The inspector met two women who were paying $40 a night for a one-night stay — one was sharing a room with a long-term tenant, while the other was staying on the living room couch.
On the attic level, a woman paid $800 a month to rent a single room, while the two other rooms were each shared by three people, the inspector found.
Each room had its own lock and several had multiple bunk beds — including one on the first floor that had four, or enough beds for eight people, according to the inspector’s testimony.
The DOB issued a vacate order as a result of the violations and the illegal occupancy has since been resolved, according to department records.
However, Erhard was also issued a fine for performing construction work without a permit — which is still listed as active. The DOB inspector found full-height partitions were erected to create the three bedrooms as well as a bathroom.
Erhard’s attorney didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.