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Renovation-- Rights on Non-Regulated Tenants?

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Renovation-- Rights on Non-Regulated Tenants?

Postby Tired_Tenant » Tue Oct 03, 2006 10:29 am

I am posting because my landlord is seeking to renovate the (illegal) studio apartment next to my (legal) apartment such that the lightwell which currently separates the two apartments will be totally filled in. Further, my bathroom and kitchen windows will be lost, as a wall will now be filling this all in, so he can expand the studio. He has never asked my permission, just said this will happen. Construction has not started yet, and may not for quite a while. What are my rights here?
Please note-- the apartment he is expanding is illegal, and I doubt he will get a building permit to do this work. Further, I would like to terminate my lease if he goes through with this construction-- as it significantly alters my apartment.
Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
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Postby TenantNet » Tue Oct 03, 2006 11:07 am

Based on your description, it sounds illegal. Lightwells (usually called air shafts) are there for a reason ... light and air. You should consult with an architect who knows building laws.
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Postby Tired_Tenant » Tue Oct 03, 2006 11:13 am

Who should I talk to re. the legality of this, though? Dept of buildings?
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Postby TenantNet » Tue Oct 03, 2006 11:49 am

DOB won't offer an opinion without a complaint or specific details. Try to find out what he's up to, or look at various scenarios. I'd call an architect. Draw up a thumbnail sketch (to scale) showing before and after, with attention to all rooms in both units and points of egress. Depending on where you are, some local tenant groups might have a person who knows building requirements.
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Postby Anna » Tue Oct 03, 2006 12:04 pm

First: go to DOB online:
Has LL filed JOB APPLICATION for PERMIT?
click on on the details on subsequent pages... DOB may have already rejected his plan.

ps: LL might be allowed to substitute a continuous exhaust fan for window to provide ventilation, or maybe not...
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Postby TenantNet » Tue Oct 03, 2006 12:33 pm

That's why you need to consult with an architect.
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Postby Tired_Tenant » Tue Oct 03, 2006 2:19 pm

I will try to find an architect who wants to discuss this, but I think that will be quite a challenge. Also, it bears repeating that this is an expansion to an existing, illegal apartment.

The only records my LL has with the Department of Buildings are for past violations, where he failed to seek permits for past renovations. My real question was what are my rights? Can I break the lease? I'd be losing half of my windows, and although this hasn't started yet, he's treated it as a foregone conclusion. I'm thinking of telling him that if he does this, I will simply move (and report him for being a slumlord!)
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Postby TenantNet » Tue Oct 03, 2006 2:45 pm

"for being a slumlord"

That should put the fear of God into him, eh?

Listen, if you're concerned about what he can or can't do, then you need a professional opinion (someone who knows the building codes and zoning) who can comment on specific plans.

What you described sounds illegal, but they have ways to get around things. On this forum we can only offer opinions up to a point. We don't have access to particulars.

Search for architect or engineer on the forum. There was a guy here a while back (haven't seen him for some time) who would occasionally offer comments. For a fee, he or someone like him will consult with you. You need to provide all relavant information.
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Postby Tired_Tenant » Tue Oct 03, 2006 2:48 pm

I didn't think it was necessary to be sarcastic.
I don't know any architects, and don't have the spare cash to "retain" one, which is why I thought that it would make sense to contact the Department of Buildings.
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Postby Anna » Tue Oct 03, 2006 3:01 pm

You didn't say WHY you believed the studio is already illegal.
did LL already get DOB violations because of it?
violates CO? technicality?
violates several provisions of the Building Code? potentially correctable...
violates the ZR: how?
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Postby Tired_Tenant » Tue Oct 03, 2006 3:37 pm

Because the building is zoned for one apartment, and the studio brings it up to three (meaning that two out of the three apartments in the bldng must be illegal.) There is no Certificate of Occupancys.
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Postby Anna » Tue Oct 03, 2006 6:08 pm

Don't you think you should have said:
"I live on a block zoned for single-family houses but my bldg has three apts in it" or something like that sometime before now?

http://tenant.net/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=4954
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Postby Tired_Tenant » Tue Oct 03, 2006 8:59 pm

Sorry, I'm very anxious about this and realize that I may not have properly explained myself. I do think that if the existance of this apartment is illegal, renovating said apartment to take up the air shaft would also be illegal. I was hoping that someone on the boards would know what sort of legal recourse, if any, I had here. Based on my (limited) professional and academic experience with NYC housing, I would assume that he could not get a permit to build, and that would be my recourse (i.e. reporting the construction if it went through.)
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Postby Anna » Tue Oct 03, 2006 9:42 pm

Tired_Tenant wrote:Sorry, I'm very anxious about this and realize that I may not have properly explained myself. I do think that if the existance of this apartment is illegal, renovating said apartment to take up the air shaft would also be illegal. I was hoping that someone on the boards would know what sort of legal recourse, if any, I had here. Based on my (limited) professional and academic experience with NYC housing, I would assume that he could not get a permit to build, and that would be my recourse (i.e. reporting the construction if it went through.)


Anna Posted: 03 Oct 2006 06:08 pm

http://tenant.net/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=4954
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Postby queensborough » Thu Oct 19, 2006 10:27 am

Work permits are supposed to be posted. When construction begins and you do not see any permits posted, then call 311 and report it.
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