I was parked outside a building on 13th Street and some workmen splashed paint on my car and scratched the crap out of my windshield by powerwashing the buildings facade without a tarp or protective covering, in violation of the law. After trying to months and months to get the contractor to pay for compounding and a new windshield — he kept promising to send me a check or asking me to visit him at a construction site since he was too busy to go to the post office — I got the idea to go after the owner; first by telling him to pay up for his contractor's mistakes and then in small-claims court if he refused. But to do this, I need to know the owner's name. Which, as you should know, is public record.
I first tried 311 which put me on hold — repeatedly — for about ten minutes while they "located" the information. They finally gave up and transferred me to the "City Register" where I waited on hold for fifteen minutes. All that waiting only to discover that all of this information is available online, courtesy of the "Automated City Register Information System". (Part of the Office of the City Register in the New York City Department of Finance.) You can find all sorts of good information on property there; deeds, tax liens, transfers, etc. Anything that's public record, you can see. (About time.) I managed to track down the building's owner who turns out to own a gallery in SoHo. (Yeah, what a surprise. Who else could afford to buy an entire building on East 13th between 3rd and 2nd?)
Anyway, if you want to dig up information on a property in New York City, here's how to do it.
- Go to the "Automated City Register Information System" (ACRIS) homepage.
- Click on "Start Using Acris" (A new window will appear.)
- Click on "Find Addresses and Parcels"
- Type in the street address to obtain the lot and block numbers. Wirte those numbers down.
- Go back to the page that appeared when you clicked on "Start Using Acris" and click on "Search Property Records".
- Now key in the lot and block numbers to get all the records for that property. The "DET" button gives you textual details while "IMG" gives you the actual scans of the documents. (You can zoom in.) You'll have to click on the entries and use the back button a lot; open-in-new-windows doesn't work.
If you run into problems, and the help button doesn't give anything useful, the number for the Office of the City Register at the New York City Department of Finance is 212.487.6300.