Thursday, September 3, 2015

Reader mailbag: Can my landlord legally convert a 1-bedroom apartment into a 3-bedroom unit?

An EVG reader asked the following …

The landlord of my small, rent-stabilized building just converted a one bedroom into a three bedroom/two bath unit and put it on the market for $5,900 a month — probably from less than $1,000 a month.

Is this huge jump legal?

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Previously on EV Grieve:
Reader mailbag: Places to eat that have that old East Village vibe (45 comments)

Reader mailbag: What do I do about my new neighbors who smoke pot all the time? (52 comments)

Reader mailbag: Where is a good place to get a cup of coffee in the East Village before 6 a.m.? (25 comments)

Reader mailbag: What has happened to the Cooper Station Post Office? (41 comments)

Reader mailbag: Can the landlord 'drill' the lock to gain access to my apartment for simple repairs? (15 comments)

Reader mailbag: Should we receive a rent abatement for having sporadic heat and hot water?

Reader mailbag: How often does your mail get delivered?

Reader mailbag: Where can I get my Mac fixed now?

Random photo found on the Internet

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

Chances are, assuming the apartment was stabilized prior to the vacancy and was vacated legally, that the vacancy increase plus the % of the cost to 'upgrade' the apartment pushed the legal rent over the $2700 required to deregulate it. That's why a vacancy of a regulated apartment is so valuable to a landlord - it pretty much guarantees the opportunity to deregulate it.

On a side note - How can a 'WC' (wash closet) be a wash closet if there is no place to wash? Do they wash their hands in the toilet after using it?

Anonymous said...

WC is actally water closet.

Larry Craig said...

That w/c won't work for me due to my wide stance.

blue glass said...

depends on a lot of things
is there s certificate of occupancy and what does it state?
were plans filed and approved by the dept of buildings for new walls?
new plumbing (not new fixtures) require an approved permit.
there is a minimum of square footage necessary per person.
find the block and lot number for the building and see what you can discover on the internet.
and certainly contact your local elected official(s) for assistance, if you want and they have time from their busy schedule of doing nothing.

William Hohauser said...

Chances are it's not legal. However if reported to the city, the combined fines and legal fees are very modest and the city doesn't force the landlord to demolish the changes and revert the apartment to original C of O. Therefore it's very profitable for landlords to do this. By the way, the fire department is supposed to get the new floor layouts so they can search for people during smokey or blackout conditions but the landlords never do this as it will alert the city to the illegal changes.

Anonymous said...

To be fair, that would be a HUGE 1-bedroom if that floor plan is to scale. Who really wants a room with just a toilet though? Adding in a shower while you're at it would be a million times better.

Anonymous said...

One important thing that is not clear is the window placement in this apartment. I know that a bedroom must have one window to be a legal bedroom, a transom window does not count as a bedroom window.

Donnie Moder said...

DHCR (Division of Housing and Community Renewal ) is the government agency to contact to inquire whether a particular apartment was properly deregulated, assuming it had been rent stabilized or rent stabilized. When a rent stabilized apartment is vacated, a vacancy increase is applied to the rs rent of 20%. Plus an Individual Apartment Improvement (IAI) increase can be applied if the owner spends $ on improvements to the apartment. Either 1/60 or 1/40 of the cost of the improvement can be applied to the monthly rent. For example, if the owner spent $100,000 on improvements, the rs rent can be raised an additional $1666 or $2500. So a 20% vacancy increase and a IAI increase can easily make the rs rent reach over $2700 and if that occurs then the apartment is deemed deregulated off rent stabilization roll of DHCR and the landlord can charge whatever she wants.

Donnie Moder said...

The huge jump certainly could be legal. It is not out of the ordinary when a long term rent stabilized tenant vacates an apartment. It is not hard to do it legally. That being understood, the owner may have cut corners in the process that would therefore make it illegal such as not following the law in deregulating the apartment. As far as whether the floorplan and construction is legal, check the Building Dept website for permits and inspect I ns and approvals. The sq ft per room and person required in NYC is very low so that should not be a problem here.

EV Grieve said...

Thank you for the responses so far!

The image with this post is some random illustration from the Internet. This isn't the actual apartment that the reader is asking about.

Anonymous said...

For the bedrooms to be legal, a habitable space must have at least one window for light and air, as per building code.

Anonymous said...

In Stuy Town, they turn one bedroom apartments into five bedroom apartments. Of course they still have just the one bathroom which is why so many of their classy renters take turns defecating and urinating in the stairwells.

http://stuytownreport.blogspot.com/

https://www.flickr.com/photos/STPCV

http://www.yelp.com/not_recommended_reviews/peter-cooper-village-stuyvesant-town-new-york

Anonymous said...

My landlord did this with a one-bedroom apartment in our building a few years, cutting the bedroom in the apartment next door in half and giving that space to the creatively engineered new three-bedroom apartment. He also extended the fire escape because the apartment he borrowed space from lost the window that the fire escape was on. It is crazy what landlords can do.

Anonymous said...

This happened to two units in my building when it was bought by Icon, with 2 of the 3 "bedrooms" actually more like large windowless closets. They were rented out as hotel rooms for two years. The building was then bought by Westminster, and now the units house NYU fratboys/girls. The last published listing was re-worded as 1 Bedroom/2 Flex Rooms. Clever!

Anonymous said...

Any BR needs two points of egress; usually a door and a window. Landlords will make an illegal BR and rent it out as a 1BR with a study. Technically, they haven't created an illegal BR, but that doesn't stop them from renting it out to two people (not a couple). In my building, Ben Shaoul turned a 1 BR into a 3 BR by adding walls that stopped short of the ceiling by about a foot. Legally, it's not a room. Still a fire trap, but not a room.

Anonymous said...

ALL bathrooms in NYC MUST
Have a window to be legal