Ask the DHCR: DirecTV; Expansion of Outer Walls
> Permit Installation of DirecTV
If a tenant asks you for permission to install DirecTV, you may not deny the tenant the right to have the system installed, provided that all of the parties comply with the statutory requirements.
A recent Division of Housing and Community Renewal (DHCR) opinion letter dated March 19, 2009, points to Public Service Law Section 228, which states that no owner shall interfere with the “installation of cable television facilities upon his property or premises.” However, according to the law, an owner may require that the installation conform to reasonable conditions necessary to protect the safety, functioning, and appearance of the premises, and the convenience and well-being of other tenants.
It also requires that the cable television company or the tenant bear the entire cost of the installation, operations, or removal of the equipment; and the cable television company must agree to indemnify the owner against any damage caused by the installation, operation, or removal of the equipment.
> First Rent Probably Allowed for Expansion of Outer Walls
If you decide to expand the outer walls of an apartment and combine it with noncontiguous space that is separated by a hallway, will this be enough for the DHCR to consider this a “substantial alteration,” entitling you to collect a first rent? Probably yes, according to a DHCR opinion letter dated March 18, 2009, and signed by Gregory Fewer.
A first rent may be charged where the outer dimensions or perimeter walls of a vacant apartment have been significantly altered and where the apartment, in its prior state, has essentially ceased to exist, thereby making its rental history inapplicable. Where two or more apartments are combined, the owner is generally entitled to a first rent.
The DHCR noted, however, that whether a particular alteration such as the one the inquirer described would qualify an apartment for a first rent cannot be definitely answered. A definitive answer would occur only after the fact: If a tenant challenges the first rent by filing an overcharge complaint, the owner would have to prove entitlement to a first rent.
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