Renting Rules

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development released a report today about landlords illegally raising rents on rents for bogus renovations. Benjamin Dulchin, deputy director of ANHD, and Jack Freund, executive vice president of the Rent Stabilization Association, which represents property owners and managers, debate the issue and talk about the future of rent regulations in New York City.


Benjamin Dulchin and Jack Freund

Comments [19]

harry New York from manhattan

New York sits on a mountain of unrealized revenue. A 100 dollar a month tax on rent stabilized tenants would add one billion to the city. It's time for the freeloaders to pay their share.

If the city wants rent control, let them and the stabilized tenants pay for it.

The cost of a mandatory paint job is more the the increase granted.

Also, all of your comments about how rich landlords are is self serving. I don't recall me giving you a copy of my tax return.

Rent stabilized tenants who can't afford to live here add nothing to the city coffers.
So what good are you?

Feb. 21 2009 03:19 AM
Christine from Manhattan

When I moved into my apartment in 1993 all of 20 apartments in the building were rent stabilized or rent controlled. The building was sold to new owners in 1995 and within 10 years all but 5 apartments were de-controlled. The remaining tennants of these 5 apartments have had to indure years of hard core harassment from the landlord. Repeated apeals to city agencies, especially DHCR, have resulted in no more than a slap on the wrist for our landlord. The de-regulated apartments have a constant turnover of very young college kids and out-of-towners who don't question the rents that they are charged. My landlord and my landlord's family own hundreds of buildings around New York. The tennants of these buildings report the same phenomenon of de-controlled apartments and harassment.

If Mr. Freund is correct that the abuse of the system is minimal, than what is the harm of having some oversite?

Feb. 19 2009 12:28 PM
George from East village

Brian is doing a great service to inform the NYC public on housing issues relating to maintaining affordable housing. I hope the city departments responsible for enforcing housing regulations are listening. The predatory- investment landlords who can pay for extensive renovations and expensive lawyers to harass tenant are the problem, not the small landlords who are frustrated by the court and many housing departments just as the tenants are.
The new mega landlord who bought my stabilized building gutted and renovated a stabilized apartment that rented for $500. The renovation exceeded what the permit allowed, he and the contractor committed fraud on the permit application and plans including claiming costs at only $30,000. At 1/40th, the new rent should be $1250. and still stabilized. Instead it is off stabilization renting at $4000. Notification of the city got nowhere so I suppose it will remain anecdotal.

Feb. 18 2009 05:02 PM
AJ from UES

My landlord(s) insisted that they replace the windows and the front door to my apt. -- they did not "ask" me if I wanted them, nor did I "ask" them for these improvements. The new door, while auto-closing, is half the depth of my old door -- I can now hear my neighbors in the hall where I couldn't before. The new windows are an improvement -- when I asked about screens, they told me I'd have to purchase them.

I am currently living in my apt, it is not a "vacant" apt. They applied for the MCIP increases and were granted them. I then had to contest them as they were claiming that my apt. had three (3) rooms, when in fact it only has two (2), according to the DHCR definitions. Currently there are more than a few vacant units in my building with no signs of construction or attempts to rent them out. How does one carry a building in Manhattan without a rent roll?

I've lived in the building for over 12 years -- the previous owners, while not particularly conscientious, were benign. These new folks seem to be up to something and it doesn't smell good.

Feb. 18 2009 11:58 AM
ex-renter from nyc

Mr. Dulchin's comment is a bit misleading. He said people come in, see an apartment and determine if it is a good deal. Yes, BUT, the only way to know what the previous rent was is to sign a lease and ask for a rental history. I found out that my apt. went from $680 to $860 to $1800 (and yes, I did account for vacancy lease increases of 20% & the legal increases put forth by the city/state.)Interesting. Long story short - in the DHCR reponse I got from the landlord contained "receipts" that looked like they had been printed from a MSWord doc. No other supporting evidence - so I am to just accept that $40000 of reno was done? At this point, it's not the money - the amount is very small if I win - it is the principle of it all! It's cheating and that's that!

Feb. 18 2009 11:50 AM
Jeff from NJ

Just heard the end of this program. To the woman who is standing in for Brian Lehrer,...could you at least try to appear impartial? It was clear that you were against Mr. Freund and cut him off when he tried to make valid points re his position.

Feb. 18 2009 11:49 AM
SuzanneNYC from Upper West Side

Mr. Freund's argument is bogus. If there is no system for tracking these renovations than all the evidence is anecdotal -- based on reports from affected tenants. Landlords are always crying wolf. But there is a difference between "small" landlords with one or a few properties and the "commercial" landlords owning huge multi-unit buildings. Also, the process for tenants seeking recourse is daunting for an individual -- the paperwork alone is complicated, the process is time consuming and resolution is protracted. It's a system designed to discourage reporting on the part of individual tenants.

Feb. 18 2009 11:49 AM
Freelancer from Washington Heights

This abuse of the 1/40 rule definitely occurred on my apartment in Washington Heights (an Edelstein building). The previous tenant's rent was $720. When we moved in, the rate jumped to $1850. I had seen the apartment before and there is no way $46,000 was spent. When I called the appropriate agency to find out about challenging the bogus increase I was told it wasn't worth it because landlords had too much sway and so we would lose. I decided to avoid the hopeless drama. But in the end my family still loses. The landlord's manager regular harrasses us "with mechanisms" in an attempt to get us to move out so they can deregulate the apartment with the following tenant. For example each year we are served with documents requiring us to provide our income in the hopes that our income is so high that they can deregulate. Tenants throughout the building are being forced out left and right. The system is stacked.

Feb. 18 2009 11:46 AM
trevor harris from Queens

I'm a landlord and feel that Rent Control is one of the policies that has created the social fabric which makes new York unique. It is a city that is economically integrated and culturally integrated because of it. Rent control is imperative.

Feb. 18 2009 11:46 AM
rachel from brooklyn heights

I am a tenant in one of the rent stabilized building owned by a big management co. As an eyewitness I have seen one particular studio being renovated every year the renter moves out. They increase the rent after that. How does one explain that??
Also we wanted to perform some improvement and were ready to pay 1/40th increase. To our amazement and anger the management never responded to our tones of calls to get an answer. THEY COMPLETELY IGNORED US. Because they want us to leave so they can renovate and get it out of rent stabilization.

Feb. 18 2009 11:44 AM
Bill from New York

Somewhat in related, my landlord recently applied to raise our rents based on "improvements" made to the building and it was left to us, the tenants, to protest or not. What were these improvements? Roofing, pointing, the replacement of the failed hot water heater with an inferior one, electrical work. My question: why would these have "counted" as improvements if not for our protestations? Why did he even get these that far through the process when the improvements he listed were basic maintenance (our building needs a proper roof, the bricks need mortar, we need hot water) BY DEFINITION. That doesn't inspire confidence in the process under discussion here.

Feb. 18 2009 11:43 AM
eastvillage from nyc

My landlord renovates, then rents what were rent stabilized apts. on a short term baises to tourists. And the bldg. next to me does the same. The landlords are getting away with rent increases and removing affordable apt. from the market. HPD does nothing halt this.

Feb. 18 2009 11:42 AM
Scott Smith

As for the escalating costs of housing, why does no one raise the issue of the city's zoning regulations that restrict development and thus keep housing scarce? Yes those regulation keep building heights from changing radically in a neighborhood, but maintaining a cap on building height has a cost. Enacting rent regulation just creates a fantasy that those costs don't exist.

Feb. 18 2009 11:40 AM
J. Weinstein from NYC

With respect, I call BS from the landlord rep.

Stuy Town IS an example of apartments turning over and the 1/40 increase being abused.

Pls. have him defend the hundreds of apartments that were "turned" by these practices.


Feb. 18 2009 11:40 AM
Roy from Manhattan

My UWS landlord continually does not renovate, but submits bogus paperwork (we have even caught them using duplicate paperwork clearly written for another address) and moves Rent Stabilized units into market value. We pursued this through the DHCR, including the fraudlent paperwork - who then ruled in our landlord's favor. In our ten unit brownstone there is only two stabilized units left, yet there have been minimal renovations. Hmmm....

Feb. 18 2009 11:37 AM
Marco from New York

By all means keep rent stabilization....this artificially props up the value of my cooperative apartment.

Feb. 18 2009 11:37 AM
Suki from Williamsburg

And I believe the illegal raising of rents for bogus renovations applies only to rent stabilized / controlled buildings.

Feb. 18 2009 09:14 AM
Suki from Williamsburg

Would you please post a link to the report for review prior to the show? Thanks!

Feb. 18 2009 09:03 AM

It would be better journalism to use the word "some" in front of "landlords" in your blurb about the upcoming story. The text "report about landlords illegally" is not bad, but the blurb on the WNYC homepage and the text that Soterios read on air says "Landlords are illegally raising rents..." I have a close relative who has for decades been scrupulous about her building and documents every repair and rent increase. Please don't paint all landlords with the same "illegal" brush.


Feb. 18 2009 08:48 AM

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