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Construction Surveying, Inc?

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

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Re: Construction Surveying, Inc?

Postby Sky » Wed Apr 05, 2017 3:20 pm

Regarding sale of the building, keep your eyes on ACRIS for any new data entries.

If the owner is known to be a liar, non of his claims should be taken at face value. The building may be sold, or the LL may have a motive(s) to lie about it in order to manipulate tenant(s)' perceptions and behavior. Of course, do not pay any monies or sign any documents to/with anyone other than the owner until such a time as you have verifiable proof of new ownership.

When my building was sold, no one was aware of it until we received a letter from the new owner.

I'm not aware of an instance where the owner can undertake a 'gut renovation' of an entire building unless there's seriously hazardous structural defects and the LL is required by law to correct them.

Further, any 'gut renovation' that's planned would have to gain approval from DOB and as with any repair, renovation, or construction plan necessitating a DOB permit to an occupied residential building, it would also require a Tenant Protection Plan ('TPP', aka Tenant Safety Plan) stating how any work will impact the tenants(s) health, safety, and comfort (for ex. dust, noise, ingress/egress, fire safety, etc., etc.) and what measures will be implemented to address this. If proposed work would require a tenant's relocation, then an attorney would draft a relocation agreement with ironclad safeguards protecting all the tenant's RS rights, prevent changes to the layout of the apartment, as well as (usually) providing free rent plus alternate free accommodations for the entire duration of the construction term, and a method of verifying/inspecting when the work is safely completed, oftentimes with a fixed completion date and monetary penalties awarded to the tenant for each day past the deadline that the work remains incomplete as an incentive for the owner to abide by the schedule and protection for the tenant from a LL that might wish to prolong the work as an harassment tactic.

What sort of neighborhood is your building in? Is it gentrified? Is it undergoing gentrification and if so, what stage is it in the gentrification?
Last edited by Sky on Wed Apr 05, 2017 5:58 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Construction Surveying, Inc?

Postby TenantNet » Wed Apr 05, 2017 3:30 pm

Keep an eye on ACRIS, but also DOB BIS web pages. You can also research the new landlord on the web. See what he's done with other buildings he owns.
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Re: Construction Surveying, Inc?

Postby Cazmia » Wed Apr 05, 2017 3:38 pm

I've tried to scan relevant paperwork, but I own an LG Leon which appears to be incapable of capturing written text; It isn't a helpful device for my legal matters. It can't focus on a billboard. Pretty awful.
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Re: Construction Surveying, Inc?

Postby TenantNet » Wed Apr 05, 2017 3:45 pm

That's a smartphone, yes? Just take a photo of a page, save it as a jpg or pdf, at lease 200 dpi and preferably greyscale or color. I don't know what it is you are trying to do.
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Re: Construction Surveying, Inc?

Postby Cazmia » Wed Apr 05, 2017 5:26 pm

Wow, Sky, your words are *extremely* comforting, thank you. Even after having found a lawyer, we fought to obtain stabilization pro se. I'm not comfortable with the idea of throwing any issue into a lawyer's lap and expecting them to do all the intense legal research it takes to save the day.

We are lucky in this day and age to have the ability to read through case precedents and ask questions at forums like this and become "self-taught" in the laws that protect us. In fact, I think every tenant should know that's a necessity. No one cares as much about your own living situation as you do and you never want to walk into a courtroom without your own case file, despite who is there to defend you.

I copy-pasted your paragraph, so I can do a lot more research on tenant protection agreements.

This is an "old Bronx" neighborhood, once very affluent in the 60's; It really is a mish-mosh of row houses, separated private homes, larger apartment buildings and buildings like mine (mini apartment buildings), all on one block. Since there are no projects or larger buildings lined up in rows, and it is surrounded by parks, gardens and trees, you can best describe it as "a suburban retreat amidst the ghetto." lol

I can't say for sure if gentrification is happening. There are *some* new faces. The price to live here has always been considerably higher than other areas of the Bronx, and that hasn't changed. They still want to rent to program recipients (Section 8, Jiggets), which keeps the rents impossibly high for low income working people like me who don't get help to afford the cost of living, of course I'm sure that's true in plenty of other areas as well. I was born in this neighborhood, however, and I fought tooth and nail to stay here.

Although the Leon specs say this phone's camera has auto-focus, it doesn't (at least mine doesn't). I've learned to live with hazy photos, but words are so blurry they are barely legible. None of the cam scanner apps improves the blurriness.
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Re: Construction Surveying, Inc?

Postby Sky » Wed Apr 05, 2017 7:20 pm

If you are wary of construction work impacting your tenancy, one term that may be useful to familiarize yourself with is 'constructive eviction'. If conditions arise that make the apartment uninhabitable (as for ex. through repair work that creates unsafe conditions or at the other end of the spectrum, neglecting defects which impact the habitability of the apartment) it creates a situation termed a 'constructive eviction' insofar as the tenant is denied the usage of all, or part, of premises.

Using the example of a 'relocation agreement' that is enacted during invasive renovations, due to the fact of it being unsafe to occupy the premises (if that is indeed the case) the tenant is considered 'constructively evicted' and the rental obligation of the tenant during the term of the 'constructive eviction' period is usually reduced to zero $; likewise such an agreement will usually provide for alternate accommodations which are paid in full by the LL. The tenant effectively lives for free during the term of this type of constructive eviction.

Alternately, there are instances where the tenant may be able to reside safely in the premises during construction (even serious 'gut' construction) and the LL may be required to conduct any and all construction safely around the tenant while he remains in occupancy. This may be the case even if the construction is legally necessary due to serious and immanently hazardous conditions, even if the court orders the construction repairs, and even if undertaking the repairs in this manner creates additional expenses for the LL.

Of course, if the repairs impacting a tenant's apartment are upgrades desired by the LL, but are not necessary for safety or to correct defects, then a tenant may very likely have a right to refuse them. All of this would be handled through negotiations with the LL and/or through court.

I wouldn't go off on a tangent worrying about such things. If events transpire that it's legally necessary to go forward with invasive construction, as a RS tenant you have a wide spectrum of rights and court case precedents. Best-case scenario is you get an upgraded apartment via renovations, get free rent plus alternative free accommodations during the construction term, and get the LL to pay for your legal fees involved in drafting the relocation agreement.

Likewise if the construction is not legally necessary then your participation in the LL's plans are voluntary. You are in a position to negotiate the terms or to refuse to participate in it. The LL may own the building, but you 'own' the rights to your apartment.

As mentioned above, tenants have a wide spectrum of rights, however like anything else, you may have to fight and go to court to enforce them.

All of this is putting the cart before the horse. Why would the owner spend significant money upgrading - or gut renovating - parts or all of a building comprised of RS units ... unless he is legally compelled to?

The reason I asked about the neighborhood is that barring a gentrification scenario, it's not common for the owner of a building comprised of RS units to spend hundreds of thousands of $$ for renovations and (gut) improvements when the RS rent roll is low, unless he's legally required to do the repairs ... otherwise there's no financial incentive. Even if the LL were to sell the building after expensive renovations, the low rent rolls of the RS units and the rental market would dominate the selling price - not the renovations - as a new owner would be limited in future revenue by the RS status of the apartment units.

Even if there's a legal requirement, LL's will often delay or avoid such repairs even if it costs them fines and legal fees. How do you think slumlords run their real estate businesses?

One scenario where renovations would make sense are where the building is targeted by an individual or predatory equity/private investment fund which purchases the building with the intention to get rid of (harass, intimidate, buy-out, cheat, etc.) the RS tenants, then renovate the building, deregulate the units, convert them to market rate, and realize a profit due to the new higher rent rolls. Typically this would go down in a location that is undergoing or ramping up for gentrification, otherwise the newly minted market rate units cannot rent at significantly higher rates and as such any potential profit is delayed until the market forces of gentrification change the landscape ... any perceived long delays in turning profits make such an investment less desirable.

In my opinion, once gentrification creeps up to your location, that's when things really change. Your LL may not have the monetary resources and experience to undertake such a deregulation project, but once the neighborhood shift is on the horizon the building becomes a potential goldmine if it can be emptied and the rents doubled, quadrupled, or sextupled … the smell of money in the air can turn into a wild west scenario and all sorts of predatory creeps may come out of the woodwork making offers to buy the building so they can work their magic. That's part of the life cycle of NYC neighborhoods. The best protection if that were to occur is a functional tenant association (highly recommended esp. considering the building history), stamina, thick skin, and good knowledge of one's rights.

To return this back to your thread inquiry: The owner has the right to sell and there's very little you can do about it. There's no real active role for you to play unless you intend to impede a sale. You need only keep current with government records to confirm or dispel rumors about a sale of the building. If it gets sold you'll know soon enough as the new owner is going to want your rent payments.
If any sort of construction were to be undertaken in your building/unit as a RS tenant you have significant rights which alter the balance of power. When you better understand your rights you'll be in a better position to access the potential impact of any construction to your tenancy and what measures you'll have available to protect and assert your rights. You will not have to get freaked out by every truck that parks in front of your building and every person that stops on the sidewalk and looks in your direction. If/when the rubber meets the road there will be government issued permits, and if it significantly impacts your tenancy very possibly agreements, and likely lawyers. Cross that bridge if/when you get to it.
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Re: Construction Surveying, Inc?

Postby Cazmia » Wed Apr 05, 2017 8:43 pm

Update: The "new landlord" was apparently around today while I was at work meeting tenants. One of the tenants said the new LL simply introduced himself and said the building had over a hundred violations and he didn't know where to start.

The comment I didn't like hearing was that he casually blurted out, "Oh, there are just some many violations I might just have to shut down the whole place to fix them."

Ohhh, really...?

The tenant I was speaking to said she spoke to hee neighbor and that we would all stand united in the knowledge of our rights and refuse to surrender to any trickery and intimidation. While I still have that sick feeling in the pit of my stomach, it's nice knowing the scared tenants I once stood up for are now ready to stand up WITH me..and they NOT sound scared!

Here's the kicker. When you get a first note on your door from your new LL, you expect the new address to send correspondences/ payments to. Well, our note said to send all correspondence to OUR address..There isn't even an apartment number...?

And the note...signed by the conniving landlord we've always had as "Manager". So..our owner sold the building to someone else so he could become his own building's manager?

HPD also cites NO issues that would warrant a gut rennovation. Coincidentally, DHCR contacted me about a harassment case I had open and wants to know if I have any outstanding issues of concern before they consider the case closed.
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Re: Construction Surveying, Inc?

Postby Cazmia » Fri Apr 07, 2017 3:58 pm

A friend and coworker of mine said she read on Google that a landlord sometimes has the right to shut down a building with more than 80 violations. However, she wasn't able to site where she'd seen that when I asked her.

I immediately contacted our lawyer at UJ, who made no comment but was definitely interested in a summary of the situation and a copy of the notice we received from the alleged new owner. I typed up a cover sheet, summary and faxed those to her at once and let her know most of the tenants have already come to me concerned (I formed the tenant association at our building).

I also called DHCR directly and was able to explain the situation to the attorney who was following up with me about a complaint. She saw the same things I did at DOB, ACRIS and HPD-there were over 100 violations, but the majority were "apartmental", not grounds for a vacate, nor were there any such suggested orders by the city.

One of the tenants upstairs whose wife is about to give birth moved a day after the notice. The rest of us think this is nonsense and plan to stand united should there be any trouble..I wish, very deeply, that we won't have to face the stress and torment we are prepared for. We've already been through so much.

At any rate, the lawyer at DHCR remembered me and our case very well. There is comfort in knowing that lawyers, courts and agencies are aware of us and often have very good recollection, so that when trouble does arise you're not always struggling to tell your story all over again from the very beginning. I feel blessed being able to say that the system I have experienced does have a heart, and sometimes there is sympathy for the tortured souls who are repeatedly brought into it.
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Re: Construction Surveying, Inc?

Postby TenantNet » Fri Apr 07, 2017 4:42 pm

Listening to friends are the best way to get evicted.
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Re: Construction Surveying, Inc?

Postby Sky » Fri Apr 07, 2017 5:02 pm

Regarding HPD records and the prospect of 'gut renovation':

-I'm not sure where the notion of 'gut renovation' came from in this conversation and it's not a precise term. There's a wide range of invasive repairs and renovations that might impact one's capacity to dwell safely in their apartment. That said, HPD is not the final authority on this. Many building structural issues are typically not even routinely investigated by HPD and many structural issues are referred to DOB for inspection. Furthermore, a structural (or other) defect(s) can exist, and a repair can be planned and implemented without any record of a complaint or violation to a government agency. An owner can voluntarily initiate and implement the repair of a defect, or a renovation, by filing a job application with the DOB with the view to gaining a permit and without a complaint ever having been called in, without an inspection, and without a single violation written. In other instances emergency repairs can be made where time is of the essence via the ARA/ LAA Job option:(https://www1.nyc.gov/site/buildings/business/laa.page)

Some buildings have hundreds of HP violations, hundreds of DOB violations, and actual structural collapse and may have a DOB Vacate Order preventing anyone from entering certain areas due to it being 'imminently hazardous to life' and of further structural collapse. Unless the entire structure is at risk the building will not be ‘shut down’ or emptied, and only areas with imminently hazardous structural damage would be off limits. Structural repairs are routinely made to damaged areas in buildings all the time. They can be occupied but effected rooms would be sealed off to prevent tenant access, both before and after construction. This could effect entire apartments, or only certain rooms within an apartment, while the remainder is safe for use and occupancy. Construction can proceed by temporary vacancy of the unit, or by sealing off the damaged area(s) with the tenant remaining in occupancy and for example a scaffold erected for ingress and egress of construction personnel, materials delivery, and debris removal. This is all decided on a case-by-case basis. There are widespread industry practices, specific NYS/NYC statutes, and ample legal precedent and case history which has bearing on how things can proceed. Architects and structural engineers are specialists in this field. On the other end of the spectrum ... is your imagination.

Of course, this may or may not have any bearing on the imagined structural defects of your building, the imagined response by the government, and the imagined building wide vacate order. All these things occur on a case by case basis ... when you understand your rights you'll have a better understanding of how these things can play out.

You are repeating a lot of misinformation.

I’m not sure where you are getting your information from regarding emptying buildings. I think you are paranoid (proviso: perhaps you should be now that your building has alledgedly been sold) but in my opinion you are aiming your paranoia in the wrong direction. It sounds to me like chicken little running around screaming ‘the building is going to be emptied for demolition!’.

The building may very well be emptied of tenants. But not in the manner that you imagine. It may already be happening, right under your own nose, because your fixation on an imagined building wide vacate order has blinded you and prevented you from identifying the trajectories of very real threats and time tested potential LL strategies that may already be enacted to remove the RS status of the apartments in your building.

The reversal of market rate units to RS status has to be one of an owner's worst nightmares as he stands by watching his rental profits vanishing plus losing legal fees all the while. He has a very big incentive to change that.

Time is of the essence. You have limited resources of time and energy. Put your intelligence to work in researching the sale, finding as much as you can about any players involved. It's time to have an emergency tenant meeting. As you mentioned, one tenant has already moved. I'm speculating here, but consider that apartment gone to rent stabilization. Whether the sale is a subterfuge or real it's likely part of a strategy to remove the tenants. This LL knows what he's doing ... but you have no clue.
Last edited by Sky on Fri Apr 07, 2017 7:23 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Construction Surveying, Inc?

Postby Sky » Fri Apr 07, 2017 6:15 pm

I will write more on this later when I have the time, meanwhile I suggest you have a look here:

http://www.cromantenants.org/what-you-can-do

"One of the tenants upstairs whose wife is about to give birth moved a day after the notice."

I assume you have a theory on this? What's your theory? Did they just 'all of a sudden' decide to flee from their valuable home and rent stabilized apartment (and after having won a possible rent freeze)?!

Was it a buy-out? How would you know? Are they at liberty to discuss it, is confidentiality and non-discloser part of any agreement? If it's a buyout, they no longer have any allegiance to the tenants ... they are in business with the LL now. Divide and conquer.

In any case, the train has left the station and you've been left behind. Vacating the building is proceeding according to plan like clockwork, while you waste your time foolishly chasing after fantasies of the building being demolished.

One tenant has already been extracted. One down and five to go.

Are you the president or dominant force in the tenant organization? Where've you been in all of this? You've been asleep at the wheel while the LL has been forming a strategy and making moves to take his apartments back. Things are going to go downhill very rapidly. Consider this the opening battle in a war ... similar to D-Day when the allied troops took over the first beachhead from which to stage the eventual takeover of the entire European continent.

What are you doing to counter this? Now that one unit has been lost, if the LL is smart that unit is going to be used as a construction site during renovations. Now that the LL has a foothold, Phase 2 of his plan will be put into action ... he'll have a legally approved tactic to annoy the remaining 5 tenants with ongoing construction, while he readies the vacant apartment for removal from RS status. Since the LL owns a construction business, he can make sure to do the work himself and be as invasive and annoying as he possibly can and maybe engage in monkey business as well. Your complaints to various agencies plus any potential legal action will simply be part of an elaborate cat and mouse game which he's prepared to play, and any potential expenditures are an acceptable part of the cost-benefit analysis of converting all the apartment units to market rate.

He'll add one more strong point in his favor as he approaches the remaining tenants with buyout offers: 'as these apartments are vacated, one by one, the building will be under constant renovation and construction for the foreseeable future. I apologize in advance for the inconvenience and unfortunate living conditions that are unavoidable when a building is undergoing ongoing construction: however I can offer to make it profitable for you if decide to move.'

What is your strategy? Do you have one? Do you even have a communication network setup between the remaining 5 tenants? Have you researched anything? Has anyone gathered any intel on what's happening? Are people sharing information? Do the tenants know their rights? Do they know what they are dealing with? Or is everyone kept in the dark in complete ignorance? You'd be amazed at how effective a cocktail of ignorance, misinformation, fear, uncertainty, overt or covert harassment, and a 'divide and conquer' strategy is in emptying a building.
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Re: Construction Surveying, Inc?

Postby Cazmia » Fri Apr 07, 2017 8:03 pm

TenantNet, I wish there were a "like" button as there is on Facebook in reference to your comment.
That is exactly what went through my mind when I told that (well-intentioned) friend that I have a keen interest in the statute she found and wanted to know her sources.   :lol:

Sky, this is a lot to absorb, but I wouldn't say I'm paranoid.  I have many tenants coming to me and I prefer, legally, always to remain in the defensive, not the offensive.  Our reactions need to be based on fact, which I why I want to work with government agencies and lawyers to keep tabs on the situation as it evolves and, especially, to keep them aware..so they can recognize an unsavory LL scheme evolving as soon as the first seed is planted.  A new owner might possibly be daunted to find out that a "blueprint" of his plans is being documented and duly reported. 

A good defensive tenant is a "righteous snitch".  You must put yourself in the position of keeping your agencies in the loop, with clear, unmeddled communication.  Too little and they won't remember you..Too much and you become a pain in the ass who builds cases over anything and wastes government time and resources. 

The tenant who left wasn't a member of the tenants association and I doubt he was aware of his rights.  Membership isn't forced, we don't even advertise, but when the tenants come to me I will educate them and often, get them represented.  All that I had to suffer to learn I am happy to provide.
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Re: Construction Surveying, Inc?

Postby Sky » Fri Apr 07, 2017 9:22 pm

The notice(s) or memos you've received by the alleged new owner, are they on company letterhead? Are they signed?

----

Cazmia wrote:The tenant who left wasn't a member of the tenants association and I doubt he was aware of his rights.


Is the apartment rent regulated?

Cazmia wrote:Sky, this is a lot to absorb, but I wouldn't say I'm paranoid.  I have many tenants coming to me and I prefer, legally, always to remain in the defensive, not the offensive.  Our reactions need to be based on fact, which I why I want to work with government agencies and lawyers to keep tabs on the situation as it evolves and, especially, to keep them aware..so they can recognize an unsavory LL scheme evolving as soon as the first seed is planted.  A new owner might possibly be daunted to find out that a "blueprint" of his plans is being documented and duly reported. 

A good defensive tenant is a "righteous snitch".  You must put yourself in the position of keeping your agencies in the loop, with clear, unmeddled communication.  Too little and they won't remember you..Too much and you become a pain in the ass who builds cases over anything and wastes government time and resources. 


I think you are correct regarding the frequency of contact with a government agency and not blowing them out.

If I were you I wouldn't place too much stock in your government agencies and officials. They represent their own interests, not yours and the sooner you understand that, the better. Their attorneys represent their agency, not you. (For example, when filing an HPD case against your LL for repairs, you also sue HPD since they are the government agency with the mandate to assure apartments are in habitable condition). Insofar as those interests overlap with yours, than you may, or may not, have an ally. When they are on board you have a power which you can leverage against an owner, however their allegiance lies with the politics of their own bureaucracies at any given moment. There's only so much they can, or will do. Work with them and use them, but understand their limitations.

Cazmia wrote: A new owner might possibly be daunted to find out that a "blueprint" of his plans is being documented and duly reported.


I highly doubt it.
A new owner (if it's indeed been sold) most certainly has done due diligence and is fully aware of the apartments having been returned to RS status ... he likely bought the building because he saw an opportunity to convert the units to market rate: it takes a certain kind of person to extract people from their homes and landlords who undertake such projects are generally cut from a certain cloth and being 'daunted' because people know what they're doing isn't part of the personality makeup. More likely they're undaunted and take pride in their chosen career path.
How do you think neighborhoods get gentrified? How do you think NYC has arrived at where it is? It's a matter of replacing low rent residents with high rent residents. It's accomplished by people who are undaunted in what they do. It began with the first settlers displacing the native Indians with a chump change buyout ...

I haven't followed all the changes in 'harassment' laws, but my recollection was the penalty for losing a tenant harassment lawsuit in housing court was a $250(?) civil penalty paid to NYC. Do you think $250 is a huge disincentive to a LL? As a reality check, do you (or does anyone?) have the numbers on how many harassment lawsuits have been successfully won against LLs in NYC in the last decade? Can the number be counted on one's fingers? The courts will not do anything in 99.9999999% of harassment cases and LL's know this and it's expensive for a tenant to litigate especially when the award goes to the city and not the tenant.

My point is that harassment is not easy to prove. In my experience the courts are just as likely (or more so) to be an employed as a means of harassment, as a means of asserting one's rights.
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Re: Construction Surveying, Inc?

Postby TenantNet » Sat Apr 08, 2017 12:28 am

In my building the only tenant to be evicted by actual City Marshalls in the last 30 years was one who ignored our advice.

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Re: Construction Surveying, Inc?

Postby Cazmia » Sat Apr 08, 2017 9:56 am

Hi, no way of knowing if that tenant's unit was rent regulated, because he didn't socialize. There was also a stigma of dealing with tenants the owner brought in after the last owner took over, because the consensus among the original tenants' association was that the LL had brought in some "moles" to 1. Interact with us and listen to our plans and 2.Vouch for his lies. He actually got the owner of the building next door to do the latter, but stabilization was granted, nevertheless, because DHCR had personally inspected and verified the fact that there are six units.

I agree with you about LLs not being daunted. Our last one threw money away hand over fist to wage an endless barrage of actions, even though he was repeatedly told by multiple judges that the laws did not support his actions.

We are assuming the tenant's unit was rent regulated, since each other tenant received notice from DHCR addressed to their unit individually, but we can't attest to his whether his rent exceeded the threshold. We know the tenants involved in DHCR actions are, because our rents meet the criteria.

I was under the impression that when you sue a landlord (in Housing Court) that you and HPD sue the owner, not that you sue both HPD and the owner. I don't know about an action initiated through HPD, but in a Housing Court harassment case, an HPD attorney is waiting to address concerns with the unit, in addition to the current complaint(s) you came in with, and HPD can then take possible additional action against the owner on your behalf.

This was a DCHR harassment action, however, and we mutually agreed to close it yesterday. If there is a new owner and he harasses us, there would have to be new complaints. The lawyer took a lot of time to educate me about the compartmental nature of the agency, what I am able to enforce and what is pointless (because a lot is in limbo during an appeal, and until the owner has exhausted all his legal remedies). I have their contact information if anything.

I wouldn't encourage a harrassment action in court. DHCR works more efficiently in initiating a proceeding and summoning you and the owner downtown for an intimate face to face with you, the LL and a lawyer. No crowded courthouses.
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