NEW CITY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Rockland County is going after slumlords who illegally divide homes.

Rockland County Exeuctive Ed Day said local building-code enforcement has been unable to crack down on landlords who create boarding houses with illegal walls and inadequate exits, which are homes to many undocumented immigrants.

‘They place people at risk,” Day told WCBS 880’s Sean Adams. “They place those (at risk) who have the least voice, those who are the poorest among us. They place our volunteer firefighters at risk.”

So the county is trying a new tactic by having the county Health Department target violations.

“With the sanitary codes, you can go back and if you look at illegal walls being put up, people being overcrowded in rooms — these are all things that affect various sections of the health code,” Day said.

He said the county will fine landlords $2,000 per violation and publicly identify slumlords. The Internal Reveue Service will also be notified.

Tips about violations can be anonymous. Day said county officials are not looking to deport anyone.

To illustrate how illegally divided homes can become death traps and smoke-filled mazes during a fire, Day referenced a January 2005 fire in the Bronx in which an illegal wall forced six firefighters to jump out of a fourth-floor window. Two died on what has been dubbed “Black Sunday.”

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