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Queens Landlord Charged With Illegally Converting Single-Family Home Into Multi-Unit Dwelling

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- The insatiable demand for affordable housing in New York City at times creates an illegal supply of rentals.

Now, for the second time in five years, a Queens man has been charged with illegally converting a single-family home into a multi-unit dwelling.

On first glance, it's not clear why the home in Elmhurst would need three satellite TV dishes. A resident insisted there was nothing illegal happening there.

"No illegal conversion," the man who didn't wish to be identified told CBS2's Tony Aiello. When asked if they'd allow a camera crew in for a look, the resident claimed "it's not a perfect day today."

It certainly proved to be a bad day for the owners, 53-year-old Segundo Chimbay and his wife, 52-year-old Maria Chimbay. The Queens District Attorney charged them with illegally converting the home on forlay street into five small apartments, including one in the attic and one in the cellar.

Authorities say at one point fifteen people lived there, all of them sharing one kitchen on the first floor. Rents were between $750 and $1,400 a month, according to authorities. The Chimbays also allegedly told renters to ignore the vacate order placed on the front door.

It's an ongoing problem in a city where affordable housing is in very tight supply. Utility poles placed throughout Elmhurst don homemade advertisements boasting of rooms for rent.

"Usually rent for 10, 12 people. It's for to save money," Elmhurst resident Cesar Palio said. "It's dangerous, it's not legal."

Chimbay has been through this before, charged in 2013 with illegally converting four homes. He got probation, which ended in October.

"That's a lie, that's a complete lie," the unnamed resident told CBS2 of Chimbay's probation.

The charges against Chimbay include reckless endangerment and scheme to defraud. They carry up to seven years in prison.

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