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Re: Repairs v. Renovations: Your Rights as a Tenant

Posted by courtwatcher on May 23, 2001 at 09:57:54:

In Reply to: can a landlord deny me needed renovations? posted by Eddie G. on May 22, 2001 at 20:43:21:

It seems you are probably "rent stabilized" and not "rent controlled"; rent stabilized tenants have specific legal protections. Check around this website and you'llk find lots of info.
The situation you describe seems to be about REPAIRS of existing conditions -- and not renovations / improvements.
The NYC Housing Maintenance Code mandates that conditions such as yours be corrected.
Seems that the Management Company / LL is playing this game: LL will let it get so bad people will just move out, then LL will spend X amount of $$ to put in a new bath, etc. and voila! LL will claim the apartment is de-regulated and bump the rent up to "market" rate.
FYI: Over the past 2 years this has occurred in my building a couple of times (1st unit: the rent went from ~$500/m > $2800/m; 2nd unit: rent from ~$1000/m > $3500/m!! None of this is kosher -- costs of renovations are fudged, filings with city agencies are bogus; agencies don't follow-up - unless someone points out the situation and raises a stink. But it happens all the time in NYC -- Capital of Commerce -- where business rules -- and always has since 1624.)
Back to your situation: you can try to make a deal for repairs / upgrades with LL (i.e.: fix your place or move to other unit in the building).
Or you can get inspectors to come in and document violations and go the legal route. This can be problematic -- as the first thing you will find is that repairs can take forever. And, unless you are prepared to take it to court (w/an attorney = a few thousand $$), the LL can go really slow (the courts will often cut LL slack if the LL shows any effort to fix violations.) Since there is little $$ incentive, LL will often do the least possible thing (ultimately the LL would prefer that you move out -- then the LL can do the rent increase game).
Also, it's likely you'll find that the LL / contractors will miss appointments and have to come back again and again -- and again. You'll find your time is wasted -- and the condition really isn't taken care of. Plus: Repairs do not have to meet any aesthetic standard, so you can end up with a working / repaired situation that, on a daily basis, is nasty to live with.
Long story short: Try to negotiate w/LL for the repairs -- this gives you the opportunity to control the schedule / costs and it will allow you to give the LL something in return.
Bottom Line: You have the right not to live with the conditions you describe.

: My wife and I live in the Lower East Side. We live in a tenement building (bathtub in the kitchen, etc.). The floor is rotten under the tub and has a bad odor coming from it. Our toilet is actually in a closet and is very hard to negotiate. Since our building was brought by a management company, they have started and completed renovations on about 6 apartments (as they become vacant) in our 22 apartment building which is "rent controlled". I say to you all, what is the protocol or what power do I have to get that damn bathroom up to an 20th century standard (dare I even think of the 21st....)?

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