Posted by chelsea on July 20, 2001 at 15:49:38:
In Reply to: Re: file overcharge immediately, if you haven't already posted by Alex on July 20, 2001 at 11:28:09:
If it's older than 1974, and has 30 units and was always residential, it was almost certainly subject to rent regulation. The problem is, the current registration system didn't exist until 1984, so that's why DHCR doesn't have a record.
As I asked before, look at the building detail forms for the years the building WAS under stabilization and see if there any rent controlled tenants. (not stabilized, but controlled.) That's a very strong sign there. Did you get a full rent history for your apartment back to 1984? That might show a rent controlled tenant too.
You can get the number and start date for the j-51 by calling the HPD j-51 office at (212) 863-5517. Call 212 863-5881 to ask for copy of the certificate of eligibility. I'm not sure if they'd be able to tell you the rent status but ask.
I think this is the number for the Finance Department office that handles j-51: 212 361-7163. If you create an account and sign onto the assessment roll section of the Finance Department web site, it MIGHT indicate "old law tenement,'' which tells you it was built before 1901 and was residential.
By the way, a j-51 financed project is not supposed to create mostly studios (there's a requirement for a certain number of bedrooms). I'm not sure if that requirement was in place at that time however.
One caution: how major was the renovation project you mentioned? If it qualifies as "substantial rehabilitation,'' the entire building might have become exempt. Ask the longtime neighbor if the building was 80 percent vacant at the time of the work, and how extensive the work was. There would have to be certificates of occupancy on the work on file at the Building Department. Search "substantial rehabilitation" in this message forum, the new RSC or on the DHCR site.
But I can't emphasize enough how important it is to act quickly, within the four-year time period.
: Thanks, Chelsea for your advice.
: No, I haven't filed overcharge yet because I want to be sure that I have a case. With a decontrolled lease, there's simply not enough protection from a LL retaliation, like not renewing the lease of asking for an huge rent increase.
: The building is certainly older than 1974, at least 30 units, and I asked to a store owner who has that store from 45(!) years about its past and he told me that it has always been a residential building, but once the apartments where larger, he said, you know, like in the old buildings...
: If this "renovation" happened in 1984, shouldn't they have filed with DHCR to have the status of rehab building (you know, many smaller studios...) been recognized so that they could get a decontrolled status? And how would the J-51 fits into this?
: Now, would the department of finance have information available to the public about the rent types before 1984? How is possible that in a city like New York this kind of information are lost? How could a legal status be enforced, otherwise?
: : First, have you filed an overcharge complaint? You say you signed the lease in July 1997, exactly four years ago. You should go to DHCR immediately -- tomorrow -- and file a rent overcharge complaint, with a stamped date. Otherwise you'll lose out because of the four-year rule. Even if they reject it, you can challenge it, and you'll have proof you filed in time. Put on the form that it was regulated before the J-51. You can worry about the evidence later. If you find out later that you were wrong, no harm done. It doesn't cost anything.
: : The main argument that a building is subject to rent regulation is its characteristics -- was it built before 1974 and does it have more than six units? Does it appear always to have been an apartment building, or could it have been, say, a warehouse, store or office building? Do any longtime residents know anything about the history of the building? You should ask DHCR for "building detail" records back to 1984 -- that should show the number of stabilized and rent-controlled units. Also, if there were rent-controlled tenants at any time, it's virtually certain it was regulated before the 1970's.
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