Protecting Yourself When You Renovate An Apartment

People in New York, especially in the city, spend decades living in the same apartment. Though some people own their units, others will choose to rent during that time. The reason we bring this up is that there are people who make renovations to their apartments. We will elaborate further on different types of renovations and their impact in a moment. Consider the following scenario: You have lived and rented the apartment (or house) for over ten years, and during that time, you have developed a close relationship with the landlord. The landlord tells you he will sell you the apartment or house eventually. You also spend over $100,000 renovating the apartment or home because you expect to purchase the home. 

However, the landlord passes away. After the home passes through probate, it is retitled in the landlord’s son’s name. He is the legal owner of the property. The son informs you that he was unaware of his father’s plans to sell you the home. He also tells you he will sell the property and is not renewing the lease. What happens to the money that you spent renovating the apartment?

Don’t Let It Get To This Point

You need to protect yourself before renovating a unit you do not own. Before making any changes, you must consult the lease to ensure you can make them. Depending on the verbiage in the lease, there may be restrictions on the type of renovations, or you may need the landlord’s express permission beforehand. 

There are also distinct differences between temporary and permanent changes. For example, leases may allow you to paint the walls or put up easily-removable wallpaper. Permanent changes such as flooring, renovating a kitchen or bathroom, or removing a wall may be outright forbidden. It may seem obvious, but the following speaks to the scenario we outlined at the beginning of this blog. Always consider the cost vs. the benefit. How do you ensure that you reap the benefits of your investment?

Protecting Your Investment

Before you embark on improvements, work toward having an ownership interest in the property. In New York, there may be cooperatives or co-ops. This is where the residents own shares in the corporation that owns the building. Though they do not own the physical apartment itself, they still have an ownership interest in the corporation that does. However, we should note that co-ops have their own sets of rules and regulations. 

Look back at the situation we outlined about the people who spent over $100,000 on renovations. How could this have been prevented? The tenant could have had the landlord sign a contract that gave them the right of first refusal. That means if the owner had decided to sell it, then the family to make the renovations would have had the option to buy it at an agreed-upon price. They would have had the peace of mind of knowing they could have purchased the unit without worrying about competing with other buyers on an open market. These are common in co-ops, condos, and jointly-owned properties.  

Speak with a Real Estate Attorney

Gamalski Law assists clients with buying and selling homes, foreclosures, property disputes, closings, and commercial real estate. We aim to help you make the right decisions now so you don’t jeopardize your investment. If you have additional legal questions about real estate, contact our office today to schedule your consultation.

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Andrea L. Gamalski Attorneys at Law

Andrea L. Gamalski understands how important it is to have a compassionate and empathetic family law attorney who fights hard for their clients in the courtroom–mainly because she’s been one of these clients herself.

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