How JustAnswer Works:
  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site.
    Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.
Ask Attorney2 Your Own Question
Attorney2
Attorney2, Attorney
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Satisfied Customers: 5672
Experience:  28 years of experience in Landlord Tenant Law.
68197583
Type Your Landlord-Tenant Question Here...
Attorney2 is online now
A new question is answered every 9 seconds

I have a cooperative building in NYC that I own a few

Customer Question

I have a cooperative building in NYC that I own a few apartments in that has installed one of those phone based intercoms back in 2012. I objected to it then and researched the issue and when I had a HP action against that cooperative on another unrelated matter i raised the fact that the intercom was illegal. The court did not rule on it, as the key issue was dealt with however now I am having an issue with being given access myself to the intercom. They only allow one phone number per unit, the tenant has to supply the phone number to them and they don't care if it is a cell or landline. In 2012 I researched this and found that this type of intercom is illegal as it is in direct contrast with MDL-50a in that the building (coop) falls under the multiple dwelling laws. I further found out that it was not inspected. I want to know if I can start a complaint in Supreme Court for declaratory relief or is there some statue of limitation from when same was installed etc. See below: MY QUESTION +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ rom: Me Sent: Tuesday, April 03, 2012 12:33 PM To: ********* Cc: ********** Subject: AddressIntercom system (phone based system) April 3, 2012 Dear Mr. ************, I am sending this email as a reminder that I will be expecting your detailed, complete, and comprehensive reply to our conversation last week when I was in your office regarding approval process for intercom (i.e. Sub Chapter M Entrance Doors, Locks, Intercommunication Systems § 25-151 (k)). As a reminder the landlord (coop) has placed a new system in. This system has replaced a working traditional system with a bell buzzer release as articulated in the MDL § 50-a, and Sub chapter M of the building code. This system is in fact not a system as there is no longer connectivity provided by the landlord in the units. Instead the coop landlord has held that the occupants are responsible for either setting up a land line connection, or cell phone accessibility to the "com box" in the front of the building. This requires a transference of responsibility to access the "com box" to the occupants instead of the landlord. A compliant intercom system is "standard building equipment" for this type of building and the responsibility of the landlord to supply and maintain on both sides not just the front of the building. In any event, as you stated when I was at your office, there are other departments/organizations that handle this and you would give me the specific names, addresses, contacts, and contact information to pursue this as that the statute currently articulates that the building department is responsible for the approval of same, but that in fact this is no longer the case. This contradiction must be resolved, so that I can move forward in this matter. Again I thank you for your expeditious handling of this matter. As you stated last week - I am looking forward to your email reply this week. Any questions or concerns please feel free to contact me by email or phone. +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ RESPONSE ============================================= ************ To Me CC ************ **************.nyc.gov ************04/06/12 at 11:58 AM Mr. Me: Sorry for my tardy response. Intercom systems are discussed in section 50-a of the NYS Multiple Dwelling Law, section 25-151 of the NYC Housing Maintenance Code and section C27—371(j) of the 1968 NYC Building Code (which applies to existing buildings). In addition in the HMC it states that intercom systems need to be approved by the Department of Buildings and/or the Board of Standards and Appeals. The BSA issued BSA numbers for building products and systems from 1938 through 1968; from 1968 through 2008 the DOB issued Material and Equipment Application (MEA) numbers for products and services. To review BSA approvals you need to go the BSA offices in lower Manhattan at***** To review the MEA approvals you need to go to the DOB at 280 Broadway-Office of Technical Certification and Research (OTCR). If an intercom was recently replaced in your building it needs to comply with the 1968 BC, MDL and the HMC. If you feel there is non-compliance with these applicable codes you should consult with a licensed professional and feel free to file a complaint with the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) and/or the DOB by calling 311. =============================================

Submitted: 2 months ago.
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Expert:  Legalease replied 2 months ago.

Hello there --

-

Did you actually file a complaint with the NYC Housing Dept after receiving the letter in 2012? To be perfectly honest with you, what you described is neither practical if there is more than one tenant nor safe. However, it might get quite expensive for you if you try to take the matter to Supreme Court on your own and I do suggest that you file complaints with the proper local authorities there in NYC before actually hiring a lawyer and pursuing the matter yourself in civil court.

-

MARY

Customer: replied 2 months ago.

I have filed briefs pro se before in Supreme Court. I need you to answer the question as to the merits, and issue of standing, and if any statute of limitations exist.

Expert:  N Cal Atty replied 2 months ago.

New Expert here.

I found the law on this:

New York Multiple Dwelling Law § 50-a. Entrances:  doors, locks and intercommunication systems - See more at: http://codes.findlaw.com/ny/multiple-dwelling-law/mdw-sect-50-a.html#sthash.Fmr8XtYY.dpuf

1. Every entrance from the street, passageway, court, yard, cellar, or similar entrance to a class A multiple dwelling erected or converted after January first, nineteen hundred sixty-eight, except an entrance leading to the main entrance hall or lobby which main entrance hall or lobby is equipped with one or more automatic self-locking doors, shall be equipped with automatic self-closing and self-locking doors and such doors shall be locked at all times except when an attendant shall actually be on duty.  Every entrance from the roof to such a dwelling shall be equipped with a self-closing door which shall not be self-locking and which shall be fastened on the inside with movable bolts, hooks or a lock which does not require a key to open from inside the dwelling.

2. Every class A multiple dwelling erected or converted after January first, nineteen hundred sixty-eight containing eight or more apartments shall also be equipped with an intercommunication system.  Such intercommunication system shall be located at an automatic self-locking door giving public access to the main entrance hall or lobby of said multiple dwelling and shall consist of a device or devices for voice communication between the occupant of each apartment and a person outside said door to the main entrance hall or lobby and to permit such apartment occupant to release the locking mechanism of said door from the apartment.

3. On or after January first, nineteen hundred sixty-nine, every class A multiple dwelling erected or converted prior to January first, nineteen hundred sixty-eight, shall be equipped with automatic self-closing and self-locking doors, which doors shall be kept locked except when an attendant shall actually be on duty, and with the intercommunication system described in paragraph two of this section, provided that tenants occupying a majority of all the apartments within the structure comprising the multiple dwelling affected request or consent in writing to the installation of such doors and intercommunication system on forms which shall be prescribed by the department, except that in the event a majority of tenants in occupancy request or consent on or after January first, nineteen hundred sixty-eight, to the installation of such doors or intercommunication system such installation shall be started within ninety days, but need not be completed until six months after the owner's receipt of requests or consents by a majority of the tenants, except that in any such multiple dwelling owned or operated by a municipal housing authority organized pursuant to article thirteen of the public housing law, such installation need not be completed until one year after the owner's receipt of requests or consents by a majority of the tenants.  If the dwelling is subject to regulation and control of its residential rents pursuant to the local emergency housing rent control act, [FN1] the local city housing rent agency shall upon the filing of executed forms containing the required requests or consents, prescribe the terms under which the costs of providing such doors and intercommunication systems may be recovered by the owner from the tenants.  In any multiple dwelling built pursuant to the provisions of the redevelopment companies law in which residential rents are limited by contract, the costs of providing such doors and intercommunication systems may be recovered by the owner from the tenants.  The terms under which such costs may be recovered shall be the same as those prescribed by the local city housing rent agency in the city in which the multiple dwelling is located for dwellings subject to regulation and control of rent pursuant to the local emergency housing rent control act. [FN1]  Such costs shall not be deemed to be “rent” as that term is limited and defined in the contract.

4. All such self-closing and self-locking doors, and intercommunication systems shall be of a type approved by the department and by such other department as may be prescribed by law and shall be installed and maintained in a manner prescribed by the department and by such other department.

5. Every owner who shall fail to install and maintain the equipment required by this section, in the manner prescribed by the department, and by such other department as may be prescribed by law, and any person who shall wilfully destroy, damage, or jam or otherwise interfere with the proper operation of, or remove, without justification, such equipment or any part thereof shall be guilty of a misdemeanor as provided in subdivision one of section three hundred four of the multiple dwelling law and shall be punishable as provided therein.

That is the law they are violating, and I suggest that you complain to Code Enforcement; their contact numbers are posted at

https://www1.nyc.gov/assets/hpd/downloads/pdf/code-enforcement-guide.pdf

I hope this information is helpful.

Customer: replied 2 months ago.

I am considering declaratory relief. If you read the above emails between myself and building dept mgmt. you see the coop has not obtained approval. I already had an inspection back in 2012 which the building inspector wrote them up. I need you to legally answer the question (s) with decisional law. I already had mdl 50a

Expert:  N Cal Atty replied 2 months ago.

I would call Code Enforcement again. A lawsuit will cost thousands or tens of thousands of dollars and it would be better to demand that Code Enforcement do their job.

Customer: replied 2 months ago.

I would handle it pro se. I've done it before. I need to know if there is decisional law to support me. If the other side sees you'll go yo the mat they must consider the cost of war. I must know the law. Thst is why I am asking for legal help on the matter.

Expert:  N Cal Atty replied 2 months ago.

There is a general rule that you cannot go to court until you exhause your administrative remedies so I suggest filing a new report with Code Enforcement and if that is not successful I will try to research case law for you. I don't want a judge to laugh you out of court for failure to exhause administrative remedies.

Customer: replied 2 months ago.

At the time the unit was vacant, and I had standing to claim the violation in L&T but the unit became occupied (tenant). Once that happened I could not raise issue in L&T. It is still rented, and I cannot force tenant to call HPD. I must get declaratory relief as there is no other remedy for me.

Expert:  N Cal Atty replied 2 months ago.

If you own units in the building, you have the right to call Code Enforcement again.

There is a case on this issue called*****South: DHCR Adm. Rev. Docket No. YG410029RT (7/28/11) but I cannot find the opinion on line, see

https://www.landlordvtenant.com/article/landlord-changed-intercom-system-without-dhcr-approval

A similar case is noted at

https://www.landlordvtenant.com/article/landlord-changed-intercom-system-without-prior-dhcr-approval

Customer: replied 2 months ago.

Each of these denote DHCR admin which is for rent controlled, and stabalized tenants no cooperative shareholders buildings. I agree that the MDL-50a, 1 RNCY 42-01, etc.. are applicable but I am looking for more like

Aquilla Frederick et al v. University Towers Assoc, 2002 NY Slip Op 50501U

As you can see I am putting together my OSC/TRO or just complaint depending upon my the severity of my arguments:

a) Proposed Installation of FOB key entry requiring us to pay for each key beyond the first one regardless of whether we have keys already that are non-ducplicatable from them that work because they want to switch for reasons unknown, and refuse to give us any information

b) the fact that they have failed to provide me access to the books and records of the cooperative since May 2016 so I can see what is going on more clearly

and c) below



  1. Declare Defendant illegally installed a building intercom that is non-complaint with various NYC Building department codes, (e.g. MDL 50_a, 25-151 NYC Housing Maintenance Code, and section C21-371(j) of 1968 Building code, 1 RCNY 42-01 (g) to (l)), and possibly ANSI A117.1, and denied lawful access to all shareholders, tenants, occupants, etc to the use thereof. It is not a “self contained intercom system”

Expert:  N Cal Atty replied 2 months ago.

I do not have enough access to NY case law so I will opt out and let another Expert take over.

Expert:  Infolawyer replied 2 months ago.
What specifically can I answer for you?
Customer: replied 2 months ago.

If you read it you can see that I am preparing to seek injunctive and declaratory relief because iter alia, the coop has an illegal intercom and refuses to allow me access to it unless my tenant allows me to use his cell phone while he is at work (phone based intercom). I am looking for preferably 1st dept decisional law to support argument for statutes stated, and maybe others fir cooperative residence or at least not DHCR.

Expert:  Attorney2 replied 2 months ago.

You may wish to request additional services such as a phone call. Legal research is not part of our base services. Please contact customer service so they can assist you. Thank you.

Related Landlord-Tenant Questions