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Deregulated Apt based on Fraudulent Improvement Costs

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

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Deregulated Apt based on Fraudulent Improvement Costs

Postby PuraVida » Tue Oct 31, 2017 12:41 pm

Hi! I moved into a 2 bedroom apartment a couple months ago. Rent is $3000 per month and the apartment is 500 square feet. I spoke to a neighbor and they mentioned how the new landlord (who bought the building two years ago) are dishonest and constantly trying to take advantage of tenants. She suggested I look into my apartment's rent history to see if perhaps my apartment was rent stabilized. I requested the rent history and turns out for at least the past 5 years the apartment's rent has been $1000. The former tenant was moved downstairs to another apartment in April. They did renovations during the Spring/Summer and my roommate and I moved in on August 1. After we re-examined our lease we saw that they did include a rider and justified the $1000 to $3000 monthly rent through IAI costs-saying that they spent $100,000 on renovations. Our apartment is TINY and friends who work as landlords and/or contractors who have checked out our space says the costs could have been no more than $15,000. I requested the documentation for the cost of improvements (invoices, receipts, eta.) by certified mail around 2 months we moved in. We were supposed to receive the documentation 30 days after our request, but have not received them yet. I am assuming once we receive them they will be fraudulent as there is no way $100,000 of improvements were made. My question is, what next should be taken once we receive the fraudulent documents and/or don't receive them at all. Any guidance would be very much appreciated! Thank you!
Last edited by PuraVida on Tue Oct 31, 2017 4:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Deregulated Apt based on Fraudulent Improvement Costs

Postby TenantNet » Tue Oct 31, 2017 1:09 pm

First, never ever choose a username that resembles your real name or email address. (also, never use the actual amount of rent on a public forum ... round it off).

As for rent history, this is common. See if you can get a copy of the former tenant's lease.

However, it seems they are claiming the jump is from IAI's, not that it wasn't rent stab. You can challenge those IAIs.

The former tenant can tell you what is the same and what is new in the place since he moved out. If he's willing, he can testify or put in an affidavit. On a challenge it's up to the LL to prove he spent the money. Checks and invoices can be faked, so scrutinize them carefully.

Who did you ask to get documentation, the LL or DHCR? Why do you think you should have gotten the documents within 30 days? I'm not aware of any rule on that.

But your request did tip off the LL that you were investigating. Never tell the LL anything up front from now on.

Your next step would be to either file in court, or file with DHCR. The latter is cheaper, but in the eyes of many, DHCR is much more pro-landlord than the courts. Of course the courts will cost you money to file.
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Re: Deregulated Apt based on Fraudulent Improvement Costs

Postby PuraVida » Tue Oct 31, 2017 4:31 pm

Thanks so much for your response! I requested the rent history through the DHCR and I requested the proof for IAI from our landlord. In the lease it gave a general outline of the cost (like bathroom costs were $26,000, kitchen costs $30,000, etc.). According to our lease, they are supposed to provide proof (receipts/invoices/etc.) 30 days after our request. I'm assuming the will be falsified documents because there is no way that that much money was poured into the renovations. I will ask my neighbor to let me know what kind of renovations were done after she moved out. My next question would be is how I prove that the documents are fake? Is that when I would take them to court? Before I took them to court should let the landlord know what I'm doing to see if we can sort it out between ourselves (maybe they don't want the hassle of going through this whole process especially if they were doing unlawful things-falsifying documents, etc.)? Thanks again for your advice!
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Re: Deregulated Apt based on Fraudulent Improvement Costs

Postby TenantNet » Tue Oct 31, 2017 4:39 pm

As far as we know, there is no requirement that the LL must respond to your document request, but chances are DHCR will not appreciate that. So if you file with DHCR, make sure they know about the LL's failure to respond.

You say the lease requires that, but there's no real remedy for that, other than taking the LL to court.

Fake documents? As many ways as there are to fake them. Look for anything that is materially false. Don't dwell on typos or things that don't matter.

You've already told the LL you want the information. He's more or less said no. Going to court really behooves that you get a lawyer (not required, but stupid not to). Plus there's an approx. $300 court fee to file the case in Supreme Court, perhaps less in Civil Court.

DHCR has no filing fees and can be done by tenants. But make sure the case is airtight.
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