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Can a tenant refuse aesthetic renovations in apartment?

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Can a tenant refuse aesthetic renovations in apartment?

Postby tweed » Fri Sep 09, 2016 3:31 pm

Hi, first time post.

I have been leaving with my wife and 2 kids for 4 years in this non-stabilized pre-war apartment (de-stabilized in 2010 as per record HD rent threshold went above $2000) as per DHCR history.

We have celebrated 2-year lease two times, the rent was increased by 3% on each renewal. Our last lease is due on October 1. We were completely surprised when we received the lease renewal with 22% rent increase. :shock: this is insane considering our household income, we tried to negotiate but there's but responses are done in a very blunt rude manner.

The Landlord claims that rent is being adjusted to market prices and won't give us an option of signing for 2 years, only offer 1-year lease from now on. Also, wants to access the apartment to replace the kitchen tiles and cabinets. We understand that this is purely cosmetic work, they are original to the building and aged badly but hold a certain character and serve the purpose.

The plumbing fixtures are fully functional and there are no damages or leaks that would compromise the unit or other units integrity. We both have a long experience working in NYC house renovations, so we know that replacing the tiles would not be done in a breeze. There is demolition, debris removal, new wonder board and so on... dust, workers, the room could be out of commission more than just a few days.

Firstly, we have a 6 Month old baby and a 8 years old and we are concerned with dust and having lead paint disturbed.

Secondly,we are made to believe that Landlord is willing to renovate while we are there and will get ready to hike the rent next time we renew, alleging capital improvement.

May long story be short, can we refuse the renovation Legally? We're not interested in breaking any lease rules, but is the landlord stretching the rope?

Thanks so much
tweed
 
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Re: Can a tenant refuse aesthetic renovations in apartment?

Postby TenantNet » Fri Sep 09, 2016 3:52 pm

If you are unregulated, then you are essentially at the mercy of your LL. They can double the rent if they wish. They can restrict leases to one year on a whim.

We can't say if a LL can force purely cosmetic repairs contrary to your wishes, but it's certainly possible.

However, you might have a hook with the lead paint issue and your infant. It's not that you don't want the lead paint to be removed, you don't want to disturb it. One place to start some research is at http://www.nmic.org/nyccelp.htm

You might also start researching the circumstances that let to your apartment's deregulation. While the trigger was $2,000 in 2010, you can research how the rent got to the +$2,000 level. There are limited circumstances where a LL's actions might constitute fraud and a court can reach beyond the 4 year statute of limitations on previous increases.

In particular look at the GRIMM and ALTMAN cases (search the forum).
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Re: Can a tenant refuse aesthetic renovations in apartment?

Postby TenantNet » Fri Sep 09, 2016 9:40 pm

We asked an expert who deals with the lead paint law:

...whether or not the landlord can do the renovations as of right, the bottom line is that if it involves the disturbance of lead-painted surfaces, or -- in a pre-1960 building, surfaces of unknown lead content which are thus presumed by Local Law 1 of 2004 to contain lead paint -- then the work must be performed using properly trained and credentialed workers using the specified safe work practices in Health Code 173.14 and the HPD regulations (the latter at http://www.nmic.org/nyccelp/laws/HPD-rules-LL1of2004.pdf), which include occupant protection measures and lead dust clearance testing.

And in pre-1978 dwellings anywhere in the country, federal regs pertaining to renovation work also require occupant protection and safe work practices. For more info, download the following book http://www.nmic.org/nyccelp/documents/lead-training-manual.pdf


So it seems there might be a way to deal with all this, but you'll have to get educated on the lead law (not a bad thing to know) and be willing to assert your rights in this.

Understand that if your unit is - or remains - unregulated, the LL can retaliate by refusing to renew your lease the next time it comes up.
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