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Construction Surveying, Inc?

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

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Construction Surveying, Inc?

Postby Cazmia » Fri Mar 03, 2017 3:49 pm

Good afternoon,

Today, I saw 2 individuals measuring the outside of my apartment building; They had a vehicle that said "Construction Surveying, Inc." on it.

I'm concerned, because the entire building has had a less than satisfactory relationship with our landlord over a battle for Rent Stabilization which we won. Many of the tenants have had rent freezes and/ or reductions and some rents are even on hold via the courts.

We know the owner is in the construction business..What reason could he have for having people measure the building in this way?

Should we be concerned about him wanting to try and demolish the place to oust the rent stabilized tenants..or could a construction surveyor just be there regarding other issues?
Cazmia
 
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Re: Construction Surveying, Inc?

Postby TenantNet » Fri Mar 03, 2017 6:17 pm

Of course I would be concerned. You need to start researching things.
http://www.thebluebook.com/iProView/804 ... -services/
https://goo.gl/e7SoT3
Note: The Albany address is not the firm's address; just an address for legal service.

Check the DOB BIS database and keep watching it.
https://goo.gl/Q5orY

Very possible the LL is up to no good.
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Re: Construction Surveying, Inc?

Postby Cazmia » Fri Mar 03, 2017 8:57 pm

Thank you,
We fought for years to become stabilized and it would be a shame to have things turn on us this way, but I don't intend to make assumptions. I read that these sorts of companies also work on insurance evaluations, so I'm hoping that is all it is.
We believe he may be trying to sell..
I checked the DOB database and there don't appear to be any new work orders or permits, ect..

Tenant Net's help got us where we are, and we always appreciate the advice!
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Re: Construction Surveying, Inc?

Postby TenantNet » Sat Mar 04, 2017 1:40 am

It could also be something for an adjacent building. Are there any major projects happening on nearby lots? Ask the building staff to see if they are willing to gossip. If you can get a hook on it, then you can do additional research.
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Re: Construction Surveying, Inc?

Postby Cazmia » Sat Mar 04, 2017 5:10 am

The adjacent building is somewhat of a "mess", being that the owner lost his home in foreclosure and had to have a stop work order placed on the new owners (who were overzealous about swooping in and taking over before all the paperwork even went through!) The stop work order's still posted next door, so I doubt it was for that building.

Also, they only seemed to measure the outside of ours.

A few weeks ago, we did see some rather bank-looking people (for loss of a better term) walking around with our landlord. It could have even been a potential buyer.

We still hear the ocassional banging and drilling going on in the infamous extra unit. Yet, the owner has barely been visible himself, to the point where his lawyers have stopped showing up for cases and they are dismissed for PNA (Plaintiff Non Appearance) on the court rosters.

Unfortunately, his unwillingness to accept the RS status has made things more difficult on his end. I keep wondering why he never once tried to work things out with us as RS tenants, instead of wasting money, hand over fist, to continue subjecting each tenant to endless court actions he couldn't win. I guess RS just feels like the end of the world to him.

It's unpleasant for us, since it's always frustrating not knowing what's going on. The whole concept of landlords and tenants so often being on opposite sides is just a lose/ lose situation. It's sad.
Cazmia
 
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Re: Construction Surveying, Inc?

Postby Cazmia » Sat Mar 04, 2017 5:18 am

No building staff to grill. It's a six unit "mini building" and we don't even have a superintendent.

The owner always reached me as a do-it-yourself individual, who wanted to cross over into real estate, as opposed to a powerful corporation type. These are old brick, structures mixed into a diverse block of larger buildings and row houses, which is why it's hard for me to entertain my fears of demolition as valid.
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Re: Construction Surveying, Inc?

Postby TenantNet » Sat Mar 04, 2017 10:29 am

Curious, can you send me the address via PM? Use PM, do not post it to the forum.
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Re: Construction Surveying, Inc?

Postby Sky » Fri Mar 24, 2017 7:57 pm

This is just a stab in the dark, but one possibility is that some sort of construction work is being planned. What is the condition of the building? Have you checked on the DOB website for your address for any current unresolved violations? Any current construction related permits that have been applied for? Any jobs or actions filed? What about the condition of the facade: any visible defects to brickwork, windows, lintels, etc.? Any interior leaks in apartments that might suggest the building needs pointing work (have a look at HPD's website for your building to review any complaints [leaks at exterior walls for ex.] that have been lodged with the city and/or ask other tenants). Maybe measuring for a scaffold and/or sidewalk shed for future work?

Demolition of the entire building, although a possibility, would be at the extreme end of the probability spectrum unless the building has fatal and imminently life threatening structural defects.

Keep a camera or cell phone with good quality picture capability always accessible and record vehicles,registration numbers, license plate numbers, and personnel. Chat up anybody doing work on the building, often contractors are clueless about and friction between owners and tenants and are simply hired to perform a task and have no issue talking about it. If you happen to own a home or apartment of your own you can approach the contractor with interest in hiring him and inquire about what exactly he's doing and the nature of the work his firm does, and their fee structure, and in so doing acquire intel about the nature of the work being performed.

It's also not a bad idea to thoroughly document the building. Take pics and videos and exhaustively document every square foot of the place: inside, outside, the basement, the foundations, boiler room, floors ... everything. Do this annually. Note any anomalies. Although it's not a common practice, LLs have been caught actually destroying the structural stability of buildings so as to vacate and demolish them. If you have dated pics and videos you'll have a record of the building's condition and it may come in useful down the road for a variety of reasons. LLs have been known to undertake repairs that are unsafe and performed by contractors or other individuals without the requisite permits. By having a historical record, you can see if work has been performed or the building has been altered over time that may impact on your safety ... and may also give you leverage in any court proceedings.

Some degree of paranoia (or skeptical curiosity) is beneficial if one is locked in an ongoing adversarial relationship with a crooked owner and excessive greed of course can cause people to do incredibly stupid or harmful things... but for one's own sanity it's important to know when and where to apply one's paranoia, and at the same time to keep one's toes firmly rooted on the ground. Do not torture yourself with visions of your home being demolished, lest you do your landlord's work for him and demolish your own peace of mind, eroding whatever pleasure you take in occupying your rent regulated home. Instead, research, document, inquire, and get an idea of what's occurring based on the facts. It may simply be routine stuff that doesn't negatively impact on your tenancy. At this point there's no way to know, don't allow your mind to spin out of control.
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Re: Construction Surveying, Inc?

Postby TenantNet » Fri Mar 24, 2017 8:25 pm

Sky, thanks for your insights.

Cazmia, Sky has been through hell and back with a very nasty landlord, and he knows the landscape. Consider his advice.
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Re: Construction Surveying, Inc?

Postby Cazmia » Wed Apr 05, 2017 9:49 am

Sorry, I've been busy lately and just read this. Sky, I can certainly relate to you, having been through hell with your landlord. I am notably guilty of paranoia for the sake of everyone's safety and know that the task of trying to think ahead in order to protect yourself from every possible thing that can go awry can be taxing, wear you out and, as you eloquently stated, do the landlord's work for him!

I have tried to keep up with photos, although I have limited access to many building areas. Websites like DOB, HPD Online, ACRIS and even the County Clerk and E Courts have become regular haunts to me since this all began in 2013.

There don't seem to be any new job filings or actions at DOB, but the task of finding out if any new Construction/ Demolition permits is rather daunting, because they publish monthly reports that open up to PDFs full of multiple addresses that show what's been granted and what's been denied-I'm hoping I'm looking in the right places for my info.

Just wanted to let you and Tenant Net know that every bit of advice and the web links you provide are actively used and were instrumental in getting our building stabilized.

Last night, a tenant informed the rest of us that the landlord told him he had sold the building. That tenant was upset, because the LL had forced him to open his home to the buyer under the pretense that it was for insurance purposes, to ultimately make repairs to his unit.

Said the tenant: "Now, he's telling me I should sign a contract with this new owner 5 months before my current one expires! He's been taking money under the table and now I'm supposed to pay another increase? WHY did he feel he needed to lie to me?"

We told him not to sign anything, and asked him if he were aware that he is a RS tenant. As the only tenant who hadn't been brought to court, he was the only one with a lease NOT exercising his right to RS.

The tenant also seems worried about what might happen if he wants to force everyone out to gut and renovate the place. The best we can do now is to give him comfort in knowing that his RS unit is actually a valuable possession to him and that we can refer him to an Urban Justice lawyer who will make his experience less scary when, and if, it's necessary.

For all we know the new LL is a decent person who was also lied to and doesn't even know he bought a stabilized dwelling..
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Re: Construction Surveying, Inc?

Postby TenantNet » Wed Apr 05, 2017 10:11 am

Few things...

Buildings themselves are not stabilized. It is the individual unit that can be RS (or not).

A new LL "steps into the shoes" of the old LL and all the same rules apply as if nothing had changed.

The tenant should follow the term of the lease, and not sign a new renewal before the end of the term. All renewals should follow the rules on the back of the RTP-8 form.

As for renovation, wait until you see what is happening. Watch closely, but don't jump the gun.
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Re: Construction Surveying, Inc?

Postby Cazmia » Wed Apr 05, 2017 11:33 am

Thank you,

I haven't seen any major work going on as of yet. In fact, another tenant keeps calling 311, because the bedroom ceiling of her children's bedroom caved in and he has refused to do anything about it, apart from painting over it when it was only a leak, before the ceiling came down.

I'm pretty sure the current tenant will not be offered a lease on an RTP-8, because the owner denied the order and determination establishing rent stabilization, and filed a PAR to it. That was about 11 months ago.

Thanks, I was a little loose with my words, as I learned that units (not buildings) are rent stabilized. Although, the determination was sent to every resident in the building.

None of the other tenants have leases. At one of the last court appearances the LL's lawyer was heard saying, the owner "doesn't believe in leases." Our lawyer found that more laughable than appalling.
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Re: Construction Surveying, Inc?

Postby TenantNet » Wed Apr 05, 2017 11:40 am

Look into the new law that says LLs must fix underlying conditions, not just paint over things. See https://goo.gl/UkXtU6 and just google "underlying conditions NYC"

You speak of the order ... was that applicable to just certain units? The filing of a PAR can stay part of the order retroactively, but not prospectively while the PAR is pending. However not having a current lease means the LL can't raise the rent.

How many units in the building? And who is your attorney? (you can answer that via Private Mail if you prefer).
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Re: Construction Surveying, Inc?

Postby Cazmia » Wed Apr 05, 2017 11:54 am

The DHCR inspected and found the sixth unit and deemed the premises stabilized in the AD order. I would say it applies to all units, since each tenant got their own copy from DHCR sent personally to their unit. Most of us contribute more than 70 percent of our income to our rents, putting us pretty much at poverty level, meaning we are able to enlist the aid of Urban Justice lawyers. They have done a wonderful job thus far.
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Re: Construction Surveying, Inc?

Postby TenantNet » Wed Apr 05, 2017 12:14 pm

DHCR doesn't do that (or they are not supposed to). They might say that because of the building being 6+ units (and pre-1974 and not a coop/condo), therefore the units would be RS >>if<< they otherwise qualify. That is because any of those units might have been deregulated legally. You can have a mix of RS, RC and unregulated units.

That each tenant received a copy of the order does not establish legal rights necessarily. The order would have to be specific as to whom (and which unit) it applied.

If you don't mind, I'd like to see the order if you have it scanned. You can upload it by using the Private Mail (PM) button, but do not upload it to the public area of the forum.
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