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Do I live in an illegal apartment?

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Do I live in an illegal apartment?

Postby moonm » Thu Jul 20, 2006 11:05 am

Recent power failures in my neighborhood (Astoria) got me suspicious over status of my apartment. I was hoping that you might be able to give me some advice.

This is the current status of the building. It is a three floor house. There are 5 apartments: basement (a couple), first floor apartment (couple), one apartment on the second floor (3 roommates) and two separate apartments on the third floor (two couples).

This is what I found out in my research here and on department of buildings site:
Certificate of Occupancy from 1984 states that the building has

-a cellar (for accessory uses);

-1st floor with following details: zoning dwelling or rooming units: 1; building code habitable rooms: 2; zoning use group: 2; building code occupancy group: J-2

-2nd floor: zoning dwelling or rooming units: 1; building code habitable rooms: 5; zoning use group: 2; building code occupancy group: J-2

-and 3rd floor: zoning dwelling or rooming units: 1; building code habitable rooms: 5; zoning use group: 2; building code occupancy group: J-2

they are all 'described' as Multiple Dwelling “A”

Building is in zoning district R-5.

If I am reading this correctly there should be only one apartment on the 3rd floor with 5 rooms (like it is on the 2nd floor). However, I live in what the landlord on my lease calls apartment 3R (rear) and there is another couple that leaves across. We have one main entrance when you get on the third floor landing and then separate entrances, separate kitchens and separate bathrooms. And there is a small hallway between our two apartments.
I cannot find any other COF or building permits issued for this house number.

Is it safe to assume that apartments on the third floor are illegally separated?

Also, I could not find a definition of multiple dwelling “A” – and I am thinking that R-5 might have something to do with being able to have 5 apartments in the building… not sure.

I’d appreciate any insight that you might have.

Thank you.
moonm
 
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Joined: Thu Jul 20, 2006 10:39 am

Postby Anna » Thu Jul 20, 2006 6:39 pm

J-2 = apartment houses, apartment hotels, etc.

'A" = probably refers to a 'Class A' Multiple Dwelling = for permanent residents only, no transients allowed.

R-5 = zoning: R = residential; 5 refers to allowed type, height, FAR, etc, for new construction = low density housing from single-family thru short attached apt bldgs. http://www.nyc.gov/html/dcp/html/subcats/zoning.shtml

CO = max # dwelling units = 3
bsmt = 0, other floors = 1.

So, yes, your apt is illegal & so is the one in the bsmt.

Search for DOB permits for construction of extra bath & kitchen on your floor & in bsmt. If there were some, there should be an application for new CO. If no permits & no CO, both apts are illegal & were created with illegal construction & illegal plumbing [both water & gas].

Just curious: did LL file MDR?

see also: http://tenant.net/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=4954
Anna
 
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Joined: Mon Jul 22, 2002 1:01 am
Location: Manhattan

You are a star!

Postby moonm » Fri Jul 21, 2006 1:00 pm

Thanks Anna!
I found the property registration here: http://www.nyc.gov/html/hpd/html/home/home.shtml
And there is a number under MDR column so I assume he did file an MDR. I cannot figure out how to ‘see’ what is in it though. Do you know if that’s possible?

How do I go about making sure that I am not mistaking – do I call DOB? Or should their website have all of the building permits if they exist (there are none existing for that lot).
I am also in a moral dilemma right now. Do I report the landlord? Do I use this information to get out of my 2 year lease and just move out (I signed the lease this May)? Do I use the information to negotiate lower rent? Do I let the other residents know?

Also, looking through deeds, it looks like he bought this property in 1996 which might mean that someone else might have built those apartments ‘illegally’. I almost don’t want to even know about all this.

Do you think it would be smart to approach the landlord on this? Since I only started this research because of law voltage problems we have, maybe he will understand that I am not out to get him, just to improve my living conditions.
I think he will also think that I am a pain in the ass since when I first moved in, there was a lot of cigarette smoke coming in from downstairs apartment, and I threatened to move out if he doesn’t fix it (he told me the building was ‘non-smoking’). He was very responsive with that – asking the neighbors to smoke on the balcony etc. He is also very responsive in terms of getting anything fixed or anything really…and he seems to be ‘very proper’ so I am surprised that he would have illegal apartments… I am rambling. Just not sure what to do.

Will send chocolate for advice 

Thanks
moonm
 
Posts: 2
Joined: Thu Jul 20, 2006 10:39 am

Re: You are a star!

Postby Aubergine » Fri Jul 21, 2006 2:10 pm

moonm wrote:I found the property registration here: http://www.nyc.gov/html/hpd/html/home/home.shtml
And there is a number under MDR column so I assume he did file an MDR. I cannot figure out how to ‘see’ what is in it though.
Click on
the link on the left side of the web page that reads "Registration Summary Report." The information displayed is pretty much all that is on the MDR form, except for the required emergency telephone number.
Aubergine
 
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Location: NYC

Postby Anna » Fri Jul 21, 2006 2:36 pm

If you can see a number [6-digit?] under the MDR, then you have already typed in your address. If you clicked on Reg Summ as Aub suggested, you will see partial data concerning owner, manager, super, filing date: i.e. a summary of some of the info on the real MDR. You can only get the whole thing at an HPD office.

More info gleaned from the MDR is in the blue section with the MDR column: 'A Units' = dwelling units for permanent residents ['B Units' = ...for transients]. what does it say: 5 or 3 ?
Class = which building code was in effect whn bldg was built [choose glossary from drop-down menu for more info]
Anna
 
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Joined: Mon Jul 22, 2002 1:01 am
Location: Manhattan

Re: You are a star!

Postby Anna » Fri Jul 21, 2006 2:47 pm

moonm wrote:How do I go about making sure that I am not mistaking – do I call DOB? Or should their website have all of the building permits if they exist (there are none existing for that lot).


DOB is the one NYC agency that is completely online. Not only is all their info online, they even require the trades to file applications online. [ But, yes, some older data is incomplete, perhaps including those permits but probably not.]

If you go in person, you will be using the exact same system to look up & print out the CO or whatever. You then take a number & wait for a DOB person to explain it to you. One of the many trades-people waiting for their turn will probably offer to do that [I spoken to many: all friendly truthful & helpful].
You could also call 311 during office hours & speak to DOB itself.

However: DOB will probably want to look at the CO or whatever, then you will, in effect, be reporting the 2 illegal apts, even if you did not intend to.

Did you read at least the QPB section of that link ? LL cannot legally collect rent, T cannot get refund of rent paid...
Anna
 
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