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Cost of code compliance passed on?

NYC Rent Regulation: Rent Control/Rent Stabilized, DHCR Practice/Procedures

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Cost of code compliance passed on?

Postby db0919 » Wed Jan 11, 2017 10:54 pm

I am a long time resident of a rent stabilized apartment. For as long as I have resided here, access to my fire escape has been blocked by an appliance, in violation of code. Clearing access and complying with code would require remodeling of the kitchen. If my landlord is compelled to come into compliance, can the cost be passed on to me via the 1/40th formula?

Thank you for any assistance or advice.
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Re: Cost of code compliance passed on?

Postby TenantNet » Wed Jan 11, 2017 11:01 pm

A little more detail please. What kind of appliance? Stove, fridge, window AC, something else? How is it blocking the fire escape? Can it be moved elsewhere in the kitchen? Why/how would compliance require remodeling?

Has a violation been placed by DOB or HPD? What does it require?
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Re: Cost of code compliance passed on?

Postby db0919 » Thu Jan 12, 2017 1:12 am

Stove in front of window that accesses fire escape. Can not be moved elsewhere easily because of size of kitchen and because of where gasline is located. The kitchen door would have to be moved, gasline moved, etc.. There has been no violation placed. I am trying to determine possible consequences of reporting need for alteration to landlord. 1 RCNY 15-10(I) prohibits egress to fire escape obstructed by kitchen fixtures.
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Re: Cost of code compliance passed on?

Postby TenantNet » Thu Jan 12, 2017 8:46 am

The gas line is just the place where the pipe ends. There is usually a flexible hose from the pipe to the stove, or the pipe may be extended.

What you have raised is known as Individual Apartment Improvements, or IAI, where rent regulated tenants have to pay 1/40th the cost of an improvement. But that's for things like appliances or other improvements where the tenant actually approves of the rent increase. You don't have to do that. Indeed, we advise tenants to ALWAYS ask for a working appliance if the existing appliance is no longer working or not able to be fixed. LL must supply a working appliance, not necessarily a new one. Do not agree to any rent increase.

This also goes for things like cupboards. If the existing one are in so bad shape they can't be repaired, then the LL's obligation is to put in new ones. But you don't have to demand new ones, or agree to a rent increase. It's your call on the rent increase. The law requires LL to make repairs, including making changes to comply with egress requirements.

If the LL is a reasonable person/company, I would bring this to their attention first, holding off on the complaint to the city. If they resist, then put in a complaint.

But, do not compromise on your safety. Fire escapes are there for a reason.
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Re: Cost of code compliance passed on?

Postby db0919 » Thu Jan 12, 2017 1:57 pm

I appreciate your time and response but I think I need further clarification. For the purposes of this discussion, please take my word that there can not be unobstructed access to the window and fire escape without a substantial cost to make alterations.(even assuming they simply move and don't replace cupboards, etc.) My sense is that since the cost has to be incurred in order to comply with a very important code, they can not pass any part of that cost on to me. Do you agree?
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Re: Cost of code compliance passed on?

Postby TenantNet » Thu Jan 12, 2017 2:07 pm

I didn't doubt you. I just explained how things work, as most tenants don't know.

Replacing appliances, cupboards, even doors is one thing. But if the LL needs to move walls, that requires plans submitted and approved to DOB by an architect. Do not let them do any of that without a valid DOB permit. Even moving gas lines requires DOB permits and qualified plumber. I would insist on all that as playing with gas can result in dire consequences.

None of that qualifies for IAI rent increases. And do not agree for the cost of new appliances unless you really want new appliances. But the appliances don't seem to be the problem -- their location within the room seems to be the problem.

The LL is responsible for the cost of all this.

One thing to be mindful of though. Some LLs will claim - usually falsely - that the tenant (you) created the obstruction. Don't let him get away with that nonsense.
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Re: Cost of code compliance passed on?

Postby db0919 » Thu Jan 12, 2017 3:14 pm

Great. That's what I wanted to know. Thank you so much for the info and advice.
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