In a piece, entitled " Improvements in a Rental ," Lucas offered his insights on whether or not tenants may make improvements to their apartments without the owners' consent.
Here's the piece in its entirety:
November 18, 2007
Improvements in a Rental
Q I live in a rent-stabilized apartment in Manhattan . As apartments become vacant, the owner is making major improvements to the kitchens (new refrigerators, stoves, cabinets, etc.).
Being handy, I would like to replace my appliances and make some of these improvements myself, possibly with a little outside help from a plumber. Am I entitled to do this, and can I do it without it affecting my rent?
A "Unauthorized repairs and renovations to a rental unit, whether or not the premises are subject to some form of rent regulation, could result in a tenant's eviction," said Lucas A. Ferrara, a Manhattan real estate lawyer.
With few exceptions, Mr. Ferrara said, tenants are prohibited from removing their fixtures or appliances or from undertaking renovations, other than those that are purely cosmetic, without the owner's consent.
"The items the letter writer wants to replace probably belong to the landlord," he said. "And if they are removed or replaced, a claim may be made that the tenant has substantially violated the lease agreement."
Mr. Ferrara said the letter writer would be well advised to get the landlord's consent before making any improvements or modifications. "If the landlord refuses, the choices are to either not do the work or allow the landlord to do it," Mr. Ferrara said. And if the landlord does the work, he will be entitled to a permanent monthly increase equal to one-fortieth of the cost of the improvement.