TenantNet Forum

Where tenants can seek help and help others



Certificate of Occupancy being violated?

Relating to Department of Buildings, Development and Zoning

Moderator: TenantNet

Certificate of Occupancy being violated?

Postby nyc10001 » Sun Sep 06, 2020 9:13 pm

I'm trying to find out if my LL is violating the Certificate of Occupancy. The apartment building was renovated in 2015 but the only C of O is from 1977. The building was built before 1938 however.

I'm wondering what "maximum number of persons" means as well as "habitable rooms"

The C of O says that max number of persons is 9 and habitable rooms is 10.

If this is being violated what are the remedies?

Thank you!
nyc10001
 
Posts: 4
Joined: Thu Sep 03, 2020 9:24 pm

Re: Certificate of Occupancy being violated?

Postby TenantNet » Mon Sep 07, 2020 1:15 am

Certificates of Occupancy (COO) are required for any building constructed after January 1, 1938. These documents detail the allowable use of a building taking into account zoning regulations and how a building is constructed.

A COO issued by NYC Dept. of Buildings will detail the usage for every floor of a building. Typically you would see upper floors allowing residential use, but ground floors, cellars or basements may have other uses.

COO's can change over time if an owner wants to change the use. They are required to be changed and reissued when the use changes, usually an Alteration 1 application. For example, if a landlord puts a laundry room in a 1910 residential building basement, then a COO is required (or an updated COO if one had already been issued).

But if the building was constructed prior to 1938, and has not been altered, then no COO is required. You can find out about COO's at https://www1.nyc.gov/site/buildings/hom ... pancy.page

Now, having said all that, occupancy standards will likely be stated in either the Building Code, the Housing Maintenance Code, or in some cases the Zoning Resolution.

Your question is for housing, so see the Housing Maintenance Code at
https://www1.nyc.gov/assets/buildings/p ... ceCode.pdf

We also have the HMC on TenantNet at http://tenant.net/Other_Laws/HMC/
but it's not as current as the nyc.gov version.

Look to page 66 for Minimum Room Sizes. That will detail how large rooms must be and how many people can occupy them. All of these regulations, for example pertaining to number of windows, placement and size are determine with basic standards for light, air and egress. I would also use common sense.

In your case, if the 2015 renovation changed actual use of a building, in whole or in part, then yes, the COO must be updated. Or ... if the use is not allowed, then the LL would be prohibited from using it in that matter. For example, if you have residential units on every floor 1-5 then the LL cannot legally put a store, office or manufacturing machinery on floor 17. Of course, machinery incidental to the building's operation (i.e., air conditioning units) are allowed on top floors or the roof). This stuff can get complicated, so I would consult with an architect or engineer if you really need a professional opinion.

You can get a lot of information about a building at Zola
https://zola.planning.nyc.gov/about/

Use your building address or block/lot information to pull up your building. From there, go to BISWEB (DOB) and from there you can link to the COO for your building.

In your case, the COO is from 1977, stating that your building was in conformance (at that time) with all existing laws. The COO states the cellar has storage, laundry, recreation room "in conjunction with 1st floor apartment." (the recreation room might be part of a duplex apartment). See https://www1.nyc.gov/site/hpd/services- ... ellar.page -- as basements and cellars differ and the rules differ.

Floors 1-5 each has residential units (but doesn't seem to specify the number of units per floor). As you said, it states the max. number of persons is 9 and habitable rooms is 10. That might mean for the entire floor.

As for any violation, well that depends on what happened when the building was rehabbed in 2015. Did any use change? If the use is essentially the same, then no updated COO would be needed.

What the mean by 9 and 10? That might be a clerical error, or it might not. I would contact the Dept. of Buildings for clarification. However, it the LL is clearly and substantially not adhering to those limitations, then you should probably get both DOB and HPD violations placed. Call 311, but you have to fight with the operators who usually don't listen or understand. Seriously, 311 is an embarrassment.

Also, depending on the situation, you might not want the LL to discover you are sniffing around, at least not yet. So tread lightly.
The Tenant Network(tm) for Residential Tenants
Information from TenantNet is from experienced non-attorney tenant
activists and is not considered legal advice.

Subscribe to our Twitter Feed @TenantNet
TenantNet
 
Posts: 9495
Joined: Mon Jan 21, 2002 2:01 am
Location: New York City

Re: Certificate of Occupancy being violated?

Postby nyc10001 » Mon Sep 07, 2020 9:15 am

Hi, thank you for all of this info! I will definitely check it out.

I guess some additional information if this changes anything: as far as I understand the renovation is 2015 was close to a full building gut renovation where they didn't put in additional units but they did increase the number of bedrooms in each unit. For example, on my floor the units went from a 3 bedroom and two 2 bedrooms to a 4 bedroom and three 3 bedrooms. As I understand it based on the C of O habitable rooms means any living space, so for my floor there are actually 13 habitable rooms instead of the 10 as the C of O says.

Does this make sense? Is there anywhere that they would have filed an updated one with the renovation plans that then didn't get filed?
nyc10001
 
Posts: 4
Joined: Thu Sep 03, 2020 9:24 pm

Re: Certificate of Occupancy being violated?

Postby TenantNet » Mon Sep 07, 2020 9:32 am

My understanding is that a COO change is triggered by an ALT 1 (but not an ALT 2). Moving some walls around might be an ALT 2. But adding or subtracting actual units would, in my opinion, be an ALT 1. DOB has done a lot to minimize cases that fall into ALT 1 category. Back in the 80's a lot of work was considered an ALT 1 which is now an ALT 2.

Check the Housing Maintenance Code for the minimum room size. The Building Code might also deal with room size. Squeezing more rooms into the same space will lower the room sizes.

Look at the Temp COO on the DOB web site. Check the dates. The Temp COO was in September, the permanent COO was in November I think. This is common, but they had a difference in rooms. Most COOs that I've seen should indicate the number of units per floor. For example, it might say three 2-bedroom units. You COO doesn't break it down like that.

The discrepancy is something I can't answer. You should talk to DOB about that - assuming you can find anyone who can give you an honest answer. The other option is to consult with an architect that is licensed in NYC.

You can also go to the DOB web site and look at all the applications made over time. The actual plans should be on microfilm at the DOB building downtown. If you do go down there, prepare for a bureaucratic nightmare.

If this is an error, the LL's remedy would be to make the room count conform with the COO, or change the COO.
The Tenant Network(tm) for Residential Tenants
Information from TenantNet is from experienced non-attorney tenant
activists and is not considered legal advice.

Subscribe to our Twitter Feed @TenantNet
TenantNet
 
Posts: 9495
Joined: Mon Jan 21, 2002 2:01 am
Location: New York City

Re: Certificate of Occupancy being violated?

Postby nyc10001 » Mon Sep 07, 2020 12:10 pm

There are no applications on the DOB web site before 2008, but the ones since then have all been ALT 2 and state that there are no changes to the occupancy.

2008 is also when the rent history states that the J51 tax abatement expired and the rent history stopped reporting the rent which the previous tenant who had been living in my unit since the mid 80s was reported as rent stabilized.
nyc10001
 
Posts: 4
Joined: Thu Sep 03, 2020 9:24 pm

Re: Certificate of Occupancy being violated?

Postby TenantNet » Mon Sep 07, 2020 2:25 pm

Understand that when the application says there are no changes to occupancy, well that is what the LL is saying to DOB, and as we all know, LLs lie all the time.

The main form of any application is the PW1. See https://www1.nyc.gov/site/buildings/about/forms.page -- and --
https://www1.nyc.gov/assets/buildings/p ... rguide.pdf

See section 26 of the form where there has been a big fuss over the years when many LLs claim there are no tenants in the building and the notification to DHCR. LL's are also required to post in plain site a Tenant Safety Plan.

In the last 2 years DOB has been forced to change the form and its procedures as so many LLs lied about tenant occupancy.

So go over each item carefully, as well as other required documents. Much of what it on these forms are Greek, and not intended for the public to understand.

When the LL says it's an ALT 2, that is their view. You can get the actual plans at 280 Broadway, 3rd floor. Many years ago I knew the public relations guy who was a great resource of information. But he retired. DOB supposedly has a tenant advocate, but the person they gave that job is one who - in my opinion - promotes LLs and developers. I would not trust that office. Better if you know an architect or engineer who actually practices in the city.

Don't discuss the J51 here as you put that in a separate thread. You should have put all this in the original thread, but I didn't make that correction.
The Tenant Network(tm) for Residential Tenants
Information from TenantNet is from experienced non-attorney tenant
activists and is not considered legal advice.

Subscribe to our Twitter Feed @TenantNet
TenantNet
 
Posts: 9495
Joined: Mon Jan 21, 2002 2:01 am
Location: New York City


Return to Building Dept/Zoning Issues - NYC

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest