The Department of Buildings has launched a citywide campaign to educate New Yorkers about the dangers of illegally converted living spaces.

As part of the new initiative, inspectors, plan examiners, community liaisons and administrative staff are visiting major transportation hubs throughout the City to distribute flyers to raise awareness about the typical signs of an illegal conversion and the potential consequences of living in such a dwelling. In an effort to reach as many communities as possible, the flyers have been translated into 10 different languages including Spanish, Arabic, Bengali, Chinese, Haitian-Creole, Hindi, Korean, Russian, Urdu and Yiddish.

Since November 2009, the Department has distributed more than 65,000 flyers and has teamed up with firefighters and members of the Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs and the Mayor's Office of Community Affairs.

Regardless of where you live, you should:

Have two easy ways to exit in the event of an emergency

Have a carbon monoxide/smoke detector with working batteries

Never use an extension cord as a main source of electricity

Illegally altered buildings and apartments violate the City's construction codes and can pose serious risks to tenants, neighbors and first responders in the event of a fire or other emergency. In 2008, the Department of Buildings issued more than 1,000 vacate orders for unsafe conditions related to illegal occupancies.

By law, property owners are required to maintain their buildings in compliance with the City's building and construction codes. If they fail to do so, violations, monetary penalties and/or criminal charges could result.

To report an illegal conversion or any other unsafe conditions, please call 311.