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Restaurant Seating in Courtyard Outside Apartment

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Restaurant Seating in Courtyard Outside Apartment

Postby InBrooklyn » Tue Feb 26, 2019 9:17 am

I live in a ground floor apartment facing a courtyard in the back. There are two stores in the front of my building, and the apartment across from me, also facing the courtyard, has recently become vacant. I have heard that my landlord plans on connecting this empty apartment to the store in front of it--an ice cream shop--and then putting in a door to the courtyard so they can have outdoor tables in the courtyard.

Since this, if it really happens, would make my life completely miserable, I'm wondering if it's legal for him to do that or if there isn't some law against putting commercial outdoor space like that right up against residential space. Does anyone have any information about this? Any help anyone could give me would be greatly appreciated.
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Re: Restaurant Seating in Courtyard Outside Apartment

Postby TenantNet » Tue Feb 26, 2019 11:34 am

The first thing I would do is check the Certificate of Occupancy for the building. Depending on your location, the zoning district and other factors, it might not be legal for the stores and residential apartment to co-exist on the same floor. I've always heard that apartments had to be on higher floors than any commercial usage. In some buildings, you might see medical and dental offices doing that, but it might be an exception. That's what I've heard, but could be wrong, so I'd check with the COO and also call City Planning.

Get the Block and Lot numbers for your building and look it up on BIS at http://a810-bisweb.nyc.gov/bisweb/bsqpm01.jsp

Your local community board and/or city council person's office should be able to help you walk through all this.

Word of warning: it's possible your apartment might be illegal, and that might have ramifications.

If they were to change the other real apartment from residential to retail, they would have to apply for and receive a change to the COO.

Also check to see if units in your building should be rent stab. (if there are 6 or more units). If it is rent stab, the change of use in the courtyard might be considered a reduction in service. That might depend on how the courtyard is being used now. Is it a quiet place that permits sitting? That would be an amenity for tenants.

There are certainly laws on use of outdoor space in front of buildings on local sidewalks - i.e., sidewalk cafes. But I don't know if there are similar restrictions on use of interior courtyards.
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Re: Restaurant Seating in Courtyard Outside Apartment

Postby InBrooklyn » Tue Feb 26, 2019 7:43 pm

Thanks so much for your help.

My apartment, as well as a few others in the building, are rent stabilized.

I found the building on the DOB site, but when I clicked to see the COO it said THERE ARE NO CERTIFICATES OF OCCUPANCY ON FILE FOR THIS ADDRESS. Not sure what that means.

Looking in the permits section, though, there was nothing there to indicate that he has applied to do work on that downstairs apartment, which is reassuring. For now I guess I will continue to watch and see if he applies for that permit--unless you have some other advice for me. My thanks again.
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Re: Restaurant Seating in Courtyard Outside Apartment

Postby TenantNet » Tue Feb 26, 2019 8:13 pm

Many buildings don't have COO's. I've seen references that any building built prior to 1938-39 doesn't need one. But OTOH, I've seen COO's from the 1920's. So I'm not sure of those rules. See https://www1.nyc.gov/site/buildings/hom ... pancy.page

However, some older pre-1939 buildings would be required to obtain a COO when and if they make changes of use to the building. For example, if an older building decides to install a laundry in the basement in an area that previously had been a storeroom, in that case a new (initial) COO would be required.

So if you change the use from residential to commercial, a COO is required.

It might also depend on the district if there's a requirement for a Certificate of No Harassment (CONH), that must be issued when a landlord makes an "Alteration A" to the building, An "Alt A" is usually a change of use to an area of the building. An "Alt B" can occur if other changes happen, i.e., putting up a new interior wall, or tearing one down, as long as the use of the area stays the same. Adding floors or extensions to a building would fall under Alt A.

HPD would be the agency that would issue a CONH. If harassment has occurred in the building, there are penalties the LL must deal with in order to make the desired changes. See https://www1.nyc.gov/site/hpd/owners/ce ... sment.page

The CONH requirements depend on the local zoning district. Your local community board would have that information. Many of the more recent rezonings around town have added CONH requirements. Also, SRO Hotels have their own CONH requirements.

If the use of the courtyard has been recreational, the removal from an area for tenants to one for commercial customers would be - in my opinion - a reduction in required services for RS tenants.

BTW, as what you describe would impact all tenants, perhaps it's time for your building to organize a tenants association to watch what goes on. However, I would not antagonize the owner unless and until you have some proof of what's going on.
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Re: Restaurant Seating in Courtyard Outside Apartment

Postby TenantNet » Wed Feb 27, 2019 1:05 pm

I just posted a new article on COO. See here: viewtopic.php?f=15&t=13662
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Re: Restaurant Seating in Courtyard Outside Apartment

Postby InBrooklyn » Thu Feb 28, 2019 12:31 pm

All very helpful. Thanks again!
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