Owner of illegal rooming house pleads guilty


An absentee property owner who was arrested in August after officials discovered she illegally rented out rooms in a two-family home pleaded guilty on Feb. 27 in Long Beach City Court.

The owner of the house — at 142 E. Market St. — Saima Choudhri, who lives in New Jersey, was ordered to pay $7,500 in fines for violating city zoning and building codes, Building Commissioner Scott Kemins said.

The Long Beach building and police departments raided the home last year and officials with the city’s Housing Task Force discovered that a second floor tenant, who was not identified, was collecting rent from illegal tenants that were subletting individual rooms.

“Over-occupancy at this level presents serious life and safety hazards, and it puts our first responders lives in jeopardy,” Kemins said. “We are pleased that this absentee owner who lives in New Jersey is now in the process of selling the home.”

Seven units were rented out of the house in the basement, the first floor, the second floor and the third floor, Kemins said.

Choudhri was charged with 19 state and local violations for illegally housing at least 15 people, Kemins said, adding that the arrest was part of the city’s crackdown on illegal housing.

“Property owners are held accountable for renting out illegal apartments in Long Beach,” City Council President Anthony Eramo said in a statement. “Our strict code enforcement on blatant violations such as this helps to protect the safety of our residents, our first responders, and the character of our community.”

City Council member Scott Mandel said illegal housing overburdens the city’s infrastructure, creates parking issues and increases taxes in the school district. City officials also said that illegal housing sometimes causes quality of life issues for surrounding neighbors who complain about loud parties, limited parking space and trash.

“We continue to urge everyone who is renting illegally to correct the violation immediately,” Acting City Manager Michael Tangney said in a statement. “If you are aware of anyone in your neighborhood who is renting illegally, please know that all complaints are kept strictly confidential and are never disclosed to the owner of the premises.”