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Rent Stabilized Apartment With Violations

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

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Rent Stabilized Apartment With Violations

Postby Renz1088 » Mon Feb 08, 2021 3:35 pm

Hello everyone,

I have, what I feel, is a rather unique situation.

I live in a one-bedroom, rent-stabilized apartment with my wife and 1 and half year old.

In August of 2020, we had a pest issue. We were seeing as many as 3-4 waterbugs per night. We contacted the landlord and when that went no where, we opened up a violation with HPD.

They came in, cited the landlords for issues with the pests, but also created additional violations for peeling paint.

The violation did not specify where in the apartment they saw peeling paint, and instead just pretty much mentioned every room in the apartment needed to be painted.

We worked with the landlord to only have the bathroom repainted in November of 2020.

Fast forward to January 2021. The building requests to have the violations removed, and a follow-up inspection occurs. The inspector issues violations for the same issues as before, and the violations state that the same thing:

'adm code paint with light colored paint to the satisfaction of this department all peeling paint surfaces in the bathroom , the kitchen , the 1st room from east, the foyer , the 4th room from east located....'

Since the bathroom was fully painted, and since they've now received the same violation, they're now pushing to have the entire apartment fully painted before the date that the violation has, which is March 4th.

Now, we tried our best to work with the building. This past Friday, we agreed to have the bedroom painted. My wife and I took off of work, planned a full day outside (during Covid and on one of the coldest days of the years), worked around the painter who was 1.5 hours late after our agreed upon start time, all to come back to the apartment late in the evening and realize that the fumes of having just that one room painted were too strong to comfortably sleep there, so we booked a hotel. For the next 4 days, the apartment smelled strongly of paint.

So, we explained this to the building, and while they say they understand our situation, they're also saying that they don't have much of a choice and are going to receive fines if they don't take care of this situation.

I then called HPD to explain the situation to them, and I was told essentially the same thing. They can request an extension, but either way, they're going to need to come into the apartment and if its their wish to paint the whole thing, we basically have to let them or potentially go to court and deal with an arbitrator.

Couple of additional notes:

1. While there is some cracks in the window sills of every room and the bathroom as a whole, the rest of the apartment does not contain peeling paint. We do not feel that a full paint job is needed here.
2. We never requested violations to be made on behalf of the paint. Our issue was with pests
3. We've brought the issues we experienced on Friday to management, and while they haven't confirmed they're willing to pay for our hotel stay, they didn't necessarily give us a an outright no when we requested it.

Given the complexities this creates for my family, what would be the best course of action? Ideally, I'd want to avoid placing my family into a hotel during a global pandemic, not to mention the difficulties it'll cause for all of us as we're balancing caring for a child and working full time. I'd prefer to not have this apartment painted at all, but at the very least, extending the due date into the summer, when we'll hopefully have more options for places to stay and things to do.

If you were in my situation, how would you approach this issue?
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Re: Rent Stabilized Apartment With Violations

Postby TenantNet » Thu Feb 11, 2021 6:24 am

Re: the peeling paint violation... this is unusual for HPD. Normally they are to look at just what is in the complaint, plus proper egress, a working smoke detector and a few other conditions.

City law requires LLs to control vermin, which includes roaches, waterbugs, mice and other pests. I've seen situations where a) the LL does nothing, or b) they have a guy come once a month to spray (with or without appointments). Usually these guys spray a few squirts in the kitchen and bathroom and that's it. It's not effective. You could do the same with store-bought bug killer.

Tenants can file 311 complaints requesting inspections and/or file HP Actions in housing court. The latter might not be possible given the pandemic and closures of the courts. Day-to-day, it's difficult to tell which court offices are open and working. Some cases are heard in person; others by video, and some not at all.

To be honest, right now, due to COVID, I don't want anyone in my apartment. If it's absolutely necessary, I insist any workers take all precautions. To those that have similar concerns, and other than real emergencies, I don't think there's any way to force you to let people in until the pandemic lightens up. And I don't know if any court would seriously entertain a LLs claim of tenant not providing access ... even if the courts were operating at full steam. But understand that HPD might then dismiss the violations.

Not sure what's going on here, but HPD uses various means to determine when to lift violations, including inspections and landlord affidavits. I don't see any problem if you wanted to write the LL a letter to the effect that the bathroom was painted on [date] and it is now in satisfactory condition. Send it to the LL and they can send it to HPD, or you could send it directly to HPD. You can also send photos to back-up your assertion.

It's up to you if you want the other rooms painted. It's a big hassle, moving furniture, etc., being at home instead of work, etc. And it's potentially dangerous given COVID.

The other side of the coin is that if you refuse access right now, there might be a delay before anything can happen legally.

Another thing you might be able to do is do the painting yourself. The LL might even buy the paint. That gives you control when and how the work is done.

If you do write HPD, I would tell them just what you say above.

- you didn't complain about peeling paint

- the other rooms do not need to be painted (but if they must, then only when COVID has subsided)

- you can't let anyone in (COVID). With increased transmission of the newer variants, this is particularly an issue, especially if you have pre-existing conditions or are elderly.

- it's a hardship to skip work, and you need the income to pay rent. So you can't just take time off right now for painting. Many tenants have concerns about allowing workers into their apartments unsupervised.

- You're asking HPD to dismiss the current violations
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Re: Rent Stabilized Apartment With Violations

Postby Landlords Boy » Thu Feb 25, 2021 11:18 am

" And I don't know if any court would seriously entertain a LLs claim of tenant not providing access"

It doesn't usually get that far. Tenants who don't let in LLs to fix alleged violations also don't let in gov't inspectors to see whether violations exist or have been repaired.

In such cases HCR inspector sends written notice to both parties deciding in favor of the LL and closes the docket. Section 8 inspectors are usually more persistent and may work to verify the landlord's or tenant's story.
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Re: Rent Stabilized Apartment With Violations

Postby TenantNet » Thu Feb 25, 2021 10:43 pm

Just FYI, mu comment was made in the context of COVID, not normal court operations.

Landlords often (usually) invent claims of no access. That is why there are rules ... notice must be in writing, in advance, give specific dates and times (times that are reasonable), must state why access is demanded and what work is to be done. I insist on all of that ... then of course the LL claims no access.

In 35 years, the LL has never prevailed on their bullshit. Of course that doesn't stop them. Intimidation like that will still work on some tenants.

DHCR will only inspect on cases before the agency, which usually involve matters of required services, and not warranty of habitability problems. For the latter, HPD handles that. If it is DHCR, the inspector cannot close the docket; that must be by the rent examiner, and they are supposed to send a letter to the tenant asking for access for inspection. Failure to do so creates grounds for appeal.
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