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Tenant alterations in RS unit

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

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Tenant alterations in RS unit

Postby TenantNet » Wed Sep 09, 2015 5:14 pm

Every so often a post inquires about making alterations in their rent stab units. We normally tell them, don't do it and cite a few cases. Many are incredulous, but that's how things are. The following article from the NY Law Journal deals with this issue, and in this appeal of a lower court decision looks at the tenant's post-trial opportunity to cure.

Realty Law Digest
Scott E. Mollen, New York Law Journal
September 9, 2015

Landlord—Tenant—Rent Stabilization—Contrary to a Landlord's Claim, Evidence Did Not Demonstrate That Alterations Caused "Lasting Or Permanent Injury To the Premises"—A "Meaningful Cure" Was Not Possible—Tenant Was Entitled to Opportunity to Cure—RPAPL 753(4)

ALTHOUGH A TRIAL COURT determined that a tenant had breached the "no alterations" clause of a lease by making "alterations to his bathroom, which included the removal of the sink, toilet, medicine cabinet and a wall," the landlord appealed to the Appellate Term with respect to whether the tenant had a right to cure the breach pursuant to RPAPL 753 (4).

The holdover proceeding had been based, in part, upon the "tenant's breach of the lease." A "10-day notice to cure was served pursuant to Rent Stabilization Code [9 NYCRR] §2524.3(a)." The court found that the tenant had been "properly afforded the remedy of a postjudgment cure upon the court's finding that the lease was breached…."

The court found that contrary to the landlord's assertion, "the evidence did not show that the alterations caused lasting or permanent injury to the premises and are not capable of any meaningful cure." Rather, the record demonstrated that the "tenant's removal of the sink, medicine cabinet and toilet can be cured 'by replacement of these items with the same or similar fixtures'; and the wall could be 'legally replaced by a licensed professional within…ten days.'" Based on such facts and since "RPAPL §753(4) must be 'liberally construed to spread its beneficial effects as widely as possible,'" the Appellate Term found that the trial court had "properly afforded tenant an opportunity to cure, so as to avoid a forfeiture of this long-term (28-year) rent stabilized tenancy."

201 West 54th St. Buyer v. Rodin, 15-037/038, NYLJ 1202729669167, at *1 (App. Div., 1st, Decided June 4, 2015), Before: Hunter, Jr., J.P., Shulman, Ling-Cohan, JJ.
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