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certificate of occupancy

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certificate of occupancy

Postby chelsea » Sun Mar 03, 2002 12:35 am

A tenant posted a question a couple of days back about a possible illegal apartment (Brooklyn?); that message, and a reply by Red Zephyr, disappeared in the switch to the new format. That tenant should know that Red Zephyr's posting was off-base in suggesting that it didn't matter that the c of o might be invalid, and that the Buildings Department might force the tenant living in the illegal apartment to vacate if it found out.

New York's Multiple Dwelling Law requires every multifamily building to have a valid c of o showing that it complies with building safety laws. If a building doesn't have a valid of c of o, and the conditions pose a significant threat to the tenant's safety, the owner is not entitled to charge rent.

Tenants are seldom removed from buildings that lack a valid c of o. Ordinarily, the owner has to bring the building into compliance and obtain a valid c of o, if possible. Only if it is not possible to bring the building into compliance with the building code and other laws -- such as an illegal basement apartment -- would an alteration have to be removed.

That being said, it is extremely difficult to get the courts to enforce rent forfeiture for lack of a valid c of o. The building department can be pretty hard to deal with, to say the least. But the biggest risk in a nonregulated building like this one is probably that the landlord would turn around and refuse to renew the lease next time it comes up. (Not as much of a problem for rent-stabilized apartments, because the lease must be renewed.)

So the tenant has some rights, but there are risks too.
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Re: certificate of occupancy

Postby <ralph> » Mon Mar 04, 2002 8:31 pm


all you need to know about illegal apartments in NYC

C of O is not correct

Postby parker » Mon Mar 05, 2007 1:45 pm

I worked for a building owner who's certificate of occupancy clearly states that it is a residential building in a residential zone.For approx the last 20 years they have been using this same building as a hotel.
There is about a dozen illegal practices being used here by the owner from zoning laws all the way to safety aspects such as fire alarms and escape routes and fire extinguishers.
Any ideas who i can contact concerning these matters ?
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Postby TenantNet » Mon Mar 05, 2007 1:53 pm

Let's not confuse this with non-compliant buildings and non-conforming buildings, which by virtue of grandfathering, can have a larger bulk (non-conforming) or a use that's not permitted in the zoning designation (non-compliant).

However, you indicate there is a Cert. of Occupancy which lays out the legal uses. This suggests that grnadfathering is not at issue here, that they are indeed using it as an illegal hotel.

I would lay out all the illegalities with all the evidence you have in a letter to the Dept. of Buildings commissioner. Also contact your local elected representatives. Most of the time they are worthless and ignore tenants, but once in a while you might get lucky.
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