The owner of the residence at 38 Railroad Avenue in Amagansett, Evan Davis of Jamaica, Queens, pleaded guilty July 8 in East Hampton Town Justice Court to a charge of violating the town’s rental registry law and agreed to pay an $11,000 fine, stemming from an early morning inspection led by code enforcement officers on the house last summer. The officers were assisted by East Hampton fire marshals and police. In addition, Elorda Braham, the landlord at the time of the inspection, pleaded guilty to 10 lesser offenses, and agreed to pay a $10,000 fine.
David Betts, the public safety director for the town, spoke about the operation after its conclusion July 30, 2018. Inspectors found 32 people living in the house, which has a certificate of occupancy that designates it as a four-bedroom residence. Of the 32, 18 were sleeping in the basement on mattresses at the time of the operation, which Betts declined to call a raid, though the town had obtained a search warrant prior to knocking on the door.
One officer at the time described the conditions inside the house as “disgusting.”
In the original report, inspectors on the scene wrote, “Of most concern was the presence of a gasoline generator and gasoline storage in the basement of the house where the 18 occupants were sleeping.” In addition, they reported that there were no smoke detectors or carbon monoxide detectors in place. At the same time, inspectors said the generator could have caused a carbon monoxide buildup.
After interviewing the 32 occupants, the town reported last year that they were all workers in East Hampton, and were paying Braham between $100 and $150 a week in rent.
As part of the plea deal, Davis agreed not to rent the house out to strangers for the next year, and to limit the number of family members in the house to a total of nine. During that period, the town will be allowed to inspect the property up to seven times, to ensure compliance. The terms of the deal could be revisited if the town were to find any violations. Originally, Braham and Davis had faced a total of 69 charges.
“The Town of East Hampton will remain vigilant in our efforts to address cases like this of overcrowding and misuse of single-family houses in residential neighborhoods,” East Hampton Town Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc said in a statement issued after the plea deal was reached last week.