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Electrical upgrade requests from tenant?

NYC Rent Regulation: Rent Control/Rent Stabilized, DHCR Practice/Procedures

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Electrical upgrade requests from tenant?

Postby Fritz2018 » Fri Jul 06, 2018 6:02 pm

Hi,

Did a quick search regarding my topic but did not find an answer.

Two bedroom apartment in a Brooklyn apartment building with over 20 apartments and all the people living in the apartment sign the rent stabilized lease.

My questions are:

1) Do I have the right to ask our landlord to upgrade the number of outlets in the living room and "master bedroom"?
2) If so, what would be the best way to approach this?

They are usually pretty obnoxious to any requests that are not emergency repair oriented. For example, once they told us "you don't live on park avenue" for asking that they resolve an issue with flooring that they created during a renovation of the kitchen (that we didn't ask for but appreciated anyway). We ended up spending our own money to make the best of it. This is not something I can do with this due to fire safety issues I imagine.

About 7 years ago, they upgraded my fuse based panel to a circuit breaker panel but without upgrading the wiring in the walls. It has 5 circuits (2-15A & 3-20A). The issue I have is that the outlets around the apartment (except for the bathroom and kitchen) were not upgraded or modified in any way as part of that fuse to circuit breaker upgrade.

The living room has one dual outlet and a dedicated AC outlet, the "master bedroom" has one dual outlet, the second bedroom has 3 dual outlets, the bathroom has one dual GFCI outlet and the kitchen has 3 dual outlets and 1 quad outlet.

The 3-20A circuits feed two kitchen dual outlets (refrigerator and microwave outlets) and the dedicated AC outlet in the living room. The 2-15A circuits feed everything else in the apartment.

The reason I want additional wall outlets to be added is to better distribute the load of the available circuits. Right now, the only way to plug in everything where we want it is to run extension cords to opposite sides of the room and use multi-outlet power strips. The apartment rooms (except the bathroom and kitchen) have not gotten an update since the 1940's. The lack of outlets is a problem given today's dependency on electronic devices.

Ideally, I would add another circuit and add outlets off of that circuit but I am not sure they can or would go for that. I would settle for outlets where I need them if I can.

Thank you for your feedback in advance.
Fritz2018
 
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Re: Electrical upgrade requests from tenant?

Postby TenantNet » Fri Jul 06, 2018 9:53 pm

"all the people living in the apartment sign the rent stabilized lease." - well that doesn't matter. It's not necessary for everyone to sign the lease.

Can you ask the LL? Sure. Doesn't guarantee anything.

It's common for LLs to install new panels (these days it would be circuit breakers, not fuses), usually with some new circuits and some new wiring, and then see rent increases based on MCI for doing so. They will only do as much as DHCR requires to qualify for a MCI. But you didn't say if you got hit with a MCI.

You say you have two 15A circuits and two 20A circuits. Is that how the unit was before they did the work? Seems like you have outlets all over the place ... did you need more? Seriously, many people live with far less. When I moved into my unit, all it had was one 15A circuit on fuses. They added circuits to the kitchen and one (air conditioner) circuit in the bedroom, but the rest of the unit is still using the original wires from who knows when. We still don't have outlets in the bathroom. And of course the LL applied for a MCI (we stopped it for other reasons).

Now, if they didn't charge for a MCI, they might be able to add the charges on and give you a rent increase. Or some LLs allow tenants to hire their own electrician, but they have to get a permit from DOB and probably wire into the breaker box, or in some cases run a line to the basement. Make sure you get the LL's written permission before doing any of your own work.

Power strips and extension cords? That's not too much of a burden. Just make sure you don't load any circuit by more than 80% of the specified load.
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Re: Electrical upgrade requests from tenant?

Postby Fritz2018 » Mon Jul 09, 2018 5:09 pm

Hi,

Re: Lease signers - I was trying to follow the rules for posting since it was my first post and based on other post question feedback.

Re: your reply.

"You say you have two 15A circuits and two 20A circuits. Is that how the unit was before they did the work?"

No, it was a two-fuse panel (with 10A and 15A fuses) that was changed to a five-circuit breaker panel (two 15A circuits and three 20A circuits). There is enough power to go around but the places it goes to in the apartment is limited. One additional circuit would be even better but I can work around that.

"Power strips and extension cords? That's not too much of a burden. Just make sure you don't load any circuit by more than 80% of the specified load."

For me the power strips and extension cords are an eyesore. Even without overloading the circuits, cords and power strips can and do fail (regardless of proper load). They can also become damaged or otherwise introduce risk that would not be there if I was plugging directly into an outlet.

The real issue I am trying to address is that I have one duplex outlet in a 13'x15' room to provide places to plug in the following.

1. a lamp
2. a computer
3. a TV
4. a fan
5. a cordless phone
6. assorted chargers for a smart watch, cell phone, tablet, headphones, etc
7. alarm clock/radio
8. a small AC (6000btu/4.9A)
9. The room's light fixture (also on the same circuit as the outlet)

All these items need to be spread around the room, not bunched up in one side of the room. Same issue in the living room which is why I was contemplating the addition of outlets.

"Can you ask the LL? Sure. Doesn't guarantee anything."

In conclusion, the answer to the question I asked was that the landlord is under no obligation to provide more outlets if I request them. Thanks.
Fritz2018
 
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Re: Electrical upgrade requests from tenant?

Postby TenantNet » Mon Jul 09, 2018 10:42 pm

Fritz2018 wrote:No, it was a two-fuse panel (with 10A and 15A fuses)


inadequate except when it was built/installed

Fritz2018 wrote:that was changed to a five-circuit breaker panel (two 15A circuits and three 20A circuits).


More adequate, except I don't know if the 15A is legal. I thought all circuits when upgraded must be 20A. Check with an electrician.

Fritz2018 wrote:For me the power strips and extension cords are an eyesore.


That seems to be the crux of your issue.

Fritz2018 wrote:Even without overloading the circuits, cords and power strips can and do fail (regardless of proper load).


That could happen for any number of reasons.

Fritz2018 wrote:They can also become damaged or otherwise introduce risk that would not be there if I was plugging directly into an outlet.


Over exaggerating maybe?

Fritz2018 wrote:The real issue I am trying to address is that I have one duplex outlet in a 13'x15' room to provide places to plug in the following.....

All these items need to be spread around the room, not bunched up in one side of the room. Same issue in the living room which is why I was contemplating the addition of outlets.


Look, I get it. You don't want wires all over the place. Who doesn't? The cheap power strips you can find in Kmart are just one solution. Without going into the walls you can probably install a conduit that runs along the baseboard, or above the baseboard. You'll still see it, but it will be a lot neater if done correctly. You would have to use the correct type and size of wires, and they would have to be connected to the existing outlet box in a professional manner. Best done with an electrician. I do not know if this sort of thing can be done without a permit or not.

I just Googled "electrical wiring baseboard -heater" and a bunch of options showed up. Even more when I Googled "electrical wiring raceway conduit baseboard -heater."

Back to the original question ... would the LL make an upgrade? Maybe, but there would be a price. You willing to pay?
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Re: Electrical upgrade requests from tenant?

Postby Fritz2018 » Mon Jul 09, 2018 10:58 pm

I guess when you ask the internet, you always run the risk of getting responses from people who have a need to be condescending and judgmental. You could have simply answered the question I asked.

So that others can be spared from the same types of responses ...

The landlord is under no obligation to install additional outlets and if they are willing to do it, they may be able to raise your rent for doing it.

Alternatives are:

- live with it
- ask for permission to hire an electrician to do it on your dime (with appropriate permits)

Topic done.
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Re: Electrical upgrade requests from tenant?

Postby TenantNet » Mon Jul 09, 2018 11:57 pm

Having a bad hair day? Just can't stand to look at that extension cord?

I answered your question a few times (that the LL is not under any obligation), and even offered DIY alternatives.

As Jack says, "you can't handle the truth!"
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