A tenant of a Washington Heights apartment in Manhattan is one of 60 tenants who filed a class-action suit last week alleging that the Bronstein Properties, inflated rent illegally by making false claims of renovations that never took place. The company owns over 100 buildings throughout the area.
According to the tenant, she researched a history of rent prices for her apartment, noticing it had nearly doubled over the previous four years. In order for this sharp rise in rent, the landlord would have needed to make approximately $30,000 in renovations while the apartment was vacant. Yet there is no record of any permits for the property, which would have been necessary for such renovations.
Regulated apartments in New York City, which amount to about one million apartments, or half of the city's rental stock, can only be raised by a certain amount each year. But if renovations are made to the property, whether it is in each apartment such as new stoves or a bathroom upgrade, or on the larger complex itself such as painting or repairs, then the landlord is allowed to raise the rent to cover the expenses of the renovations.
If you believe your rights as a tenant have been violated, it might be in your best interests to reach out to a firm familiar with landlord/tenant disputes for help. It is not uncommon for landlords in New York City to take advantage of less-monitored rules, which often negatively affect the tenants of the apartments. Working with a law firm experienced with landlord/tenant disputes can help tip the scale on the side of the tenants, and get them the representation and solutions they deserve.
Source: New York Times, "Landlord Raised Rents for Renovations Never Done, Lawsuit Says," Kim Barker, July 25, 2017