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New Building Owners Raising Rent in Crown Heights — Brooklynian

New Building Owners Raising Rent in Crown Heights

I'm not a frequent poster on Brooklynian but I do read the posts on a regular basis, and I'm hoping someone in this crowd might be able to offer advice on what me & my girlfriend are going through at the moment.

The rent-stabilized building we've lived in for two years was recently sold to a new management company. Before the purchase, we attempted several times to renew our lease with the old management company. Our lease expired in May, and we had repeatedly called in regards to it and were not provided a renewal, which should have been offered since the building is rent-stabilized.

This went on until the end of June, when we were informed that the building had been sold. The new management company recently sent us a renewal lease, set to start 10/1/2013, that shows a significant increase to our rent. Our previous company offered us a preferential rent, but this new company wants to begin charging us the legal rent of the apartment, which is a difference of $700. Other tenants with expired leases have been treated the same way, with their renewal leases asking for rents exceeding $3000.

According to the previous company, the sale had been in works since January and the incoming company requested that no renewal leases be sent out to current tenants while the deal was on the table. We understand that aren't guaranteed the preferential rent, but this doesn't feel right.

Any help/advice on this would be much appreciated, especially if someone was put in a similar situation.

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Comments

  • If you had a preferential rent, the landlord can go up to the legal rent with the new lease. I'm sure they waited to see what the new guidelines are that just came out from the rent guidelines board. ( I know I did) before offering a renewal lease. Unfortunately, this is how the rent stabilization laws are used and abused. It really sucks to get a huge jump in rent like that.

  • The fact of the matter is owning rental property is not a charitable business. The landlord doesn't get preferential treatment from the city when the water rates go up as they did yesterday by 6%, or the gas/oil or the electric. As their costs go up and the city always finds new ways to increase something as well as property taxes yours are going up too. Not much you can do about it. Consider the time you had at the lower rent a gift.

    Disclaimer: I do not own property and rent my residence same as you.

  • You might want to try this question on tenant.net, they are much more renter-friendly and have more specific legal knowledge in these kinds of situations (my amateur opinion is that they were required to offer you a renewal lease, but I don't know)

  • There's a number you can call where people have all the answers to your questions about rent stabilized apartments. Usually Why_not has it and since he's on vacation does anyone else know it?

    Any landlord new or old, can raise the rent back to legal at any renewal lease. The remaining question has to do with the legality of withholding renewal leases? Are you allowed to be without a lease in a R.S. building?

    As long as you and other tenants were given 120 days notice of your new rent increase I don't believe you have a leg to stand on. You really need to be speaking to professional advice in this regard and most likely if you attempt to fight this you will need a lawyer. If you were to win that battle I'm sure you know that at next year's signing your rent would just go up to full legal.

  • You might want to look at some of the resources from the Crown Heights Assembly website, to do some preliminary research on your situation (http://crownheightsassembly.net/). The Met Council on Housing has excellent FAQs and resources pertaining to rent-stabilized buildings and tenants (http://metcouncilonhousing.org/help_and_answers).

    You might also want to seek representation from a Brooklyn Tenant Lawyer. Some really respectable lawyers from the legal aid community have formed the Brooklyn Tenant Lawyers Network and might be able to refer you to someone who you can talk to (contact info at end of page http://www.legalservicesnyc.org/index.php?option=content&task=view&id=646).

  • Although on vacation, Whynot is in a town with decent wifi at the moment, and quickly gives you the following mega link:

    https://files.nyu.edu/swl2/public/housing.html

    By clicking on this link, you will access just about everything you will ever need to know about rent stabilized housing in NYC. Read slowly. Digest. Get the facts.

    As others have hinted, just because you don't like something, doesn't mean it is illegal.

  • OMG He has spoken!!!!

  • I am pro tenant, just to disclaim and I empathize with you. I tend to believe that a lot of what happens with rent stabilized apartments is illegal. There is research to prove this. Check out Make the road ny. I wish more landlords were stopped, questioned and frisked. With regards to the renewals, they have to be made timely according to the laws, any deviation from this will not allow for any increase. Also, they may not be able to raise your rent, it all depends on what the terms of the initial preferential rent were. Do you recall whether both the legal rent and lower rent were presented to you upon lease signing? Also was there any verbiage about the duration of the preferential rent. These two factors determine whether the preferential rent is rescindable. Check out the DHCR fact sheet on this issue http://www.nyshcr.org/Rent/factsheets/orafac40.htm

    Also, go ahead and get your rental history from the DHCR to assess whether the legal rent is actually legal and DO go over to tenant.net as nycgeoff suggested.

    Good luck.....don't concede anything so quickly

  • I am pro tenant, just to disclaim and I empathize with you. I tend to believe that a lot of what happens with rent stabilized apartments is illegal. There is research to prove this. Check out Make the road ny. I wish more landlords were stopped, questioned and frisked. With regards to the renewals, they have to be made timely according to the laws, any deviation from this will not allow for any increase. Also, they may not be able to raise your rent, it all depends on what the terms of the initial preferential rent were. Do you recall whether both the legal rent and lower rent were presented to you upon lease signing? Also was there any verbiage about the duration of the preferential rent. These two factors determine whether the preferential rent is rescindable. Check out the DHCR fact sheet on this issue http://www.nyshcr.org/Rent/factsheets/orafac40.htm

    Also, go ahead and get your rental history from the DHCR to assess whether the legal rent is actually legal and DO go over to tenant.net as nycgeoff suggested.

    Good luck.....don't concede anything so quickly

  • tsarina said:

    OMG He has spoken!!!!

    I have. And, I have provided lots of answers and resources. Now, comes the real question: Will anyone actually click the link and see how it authoritatively links people to reliable sources?

    Or, will we soon get my favorite type of poster: One who merely thumps their chest as being pro-tenant or pro-landlord, and puts forward their unique concept of fairness, under the guise of expertise?

  • tsarina said:

    OMG He has spoken!!!!

    *Stops mournful wail* Yay!!!!!

    But in all seriousness, Ptdlugosz, I think the landlord can charge anything up to and including the legal maximum. I know it sucks but this is NYC and this shit happens. I've never heard of a place refusing to issue a new lease when the current expires except if the land lord wants the tenant. out. In which case don't they have to compensate you? I'm not really sure but you should check in to the resources people have given you here.

    Also why are you an occasional poster but frequent lurker? We're nice people hear as you can see! Join in! It will be fun of that I promise! :-)

  • tsarina said:

    OMG He has spoken!!!!

    *Stops mournful wail* Yay!!!!!

    But in all seriousness, Ptdlugosz, I think the landlord can charge anything up to and including the legal maximum. I know it sucks but this is NYC and this shit happens. I've never heard of a place refusing to issue a new lease when the current expires except if the land lord wants the tenant. out. In which case don't they have to compensate you? I'm not really sure but you should check in to the resources people have given you here.

    Also why are you an occasional poster but frequent lurker? We're nice people hear as you can see! Join in! It will be fun of that I promise! :-)

  • All egos aside, dude has a serious issue. I empathize with him. I also directed him to the applicable resources as well. No one here is an expert, I know, I don't claim to be. I know what I know though.

  • The OP mentions that some of the apartments in his building are being offered renewal leases for over $3000. Because the cap for rent stabilization is $2500, this would seem to imply that either the units are no longer subject to regulation, or the landlord is charging rents above the allowed amount.

    As discussed previously, DHCR isn't very equipped to effectively enforce the regulations it is charged with, the landlords know it, and (given the present demand and supply of apartments) a lot of tenants really don't care whether the lease they sign abides by DHCR maximums.

    Regardless of which side you are rooting for: In Western CH, the conditions have made for a Perfect Storm, wherein long term income tenants play the role of the fishermen.

    Here's a pretty good, somewhat recent discussion on it all:

    http://www.brooklynian.com/forums/topic/a-look-below-the-surface-in-gentrifying-crown-heights-published-jan-15-2013

  • Hi

    Crown heights has become very popular recently and new investors are pushing the rental market to see what their new investments will command.

    You seem to understand the terms and conditions of your preferential rent and that the landlord (old or new) has every right to raise it. That said...the landlord had to provide you with a new lease a few months before yours expired. See if that could help you...but I doubt it since there is a new owner.

    My best advice to you is to look someplace else. If your new landlord is asking for $3000 then you can get something really nice in park slope/brooklyn heights/williamsburg for that amount of money. If you can't afford that amount then I strongly recommend bay ridge. It might take a bit longer to get into the city but its much cheaper and has a lot to offer.

    I am really sorry about your situation but it might turn out to be a blessing in disguise. You might discover a new neighborhood that you would love and live in a better apartment.

    TO BKREST WHO IS PRO-TENANT.....I want to see this study you are talking about! I know a lot of landlords and non of them break the laws. In addition, we always make concessions to tenants who fall on hard times. So as a landlord who has 85% of his tenants paying preferential rent in prime park slope...I call bullshit!

  • It's entirely possible that they want people to move out so they can renovate and/or do a condo conversion, and this is the first step (as it is free to do).

  • It amazes me how people act surprised that their is significant rent fraud in NY. It's akin to the fraud on wall st. I am currently fighting this battle with my landlord. So these are not just talking points for the board. Here's the report referenced http://www.indypendent.org/2011/10/07/rip-new-report-details-rampant-rent-fraud-across-city

    http://www.maketheroad.org/report.php?ID=1939

    And we are all entitled to our own opinions on what is fair and what is not, let's respect that these definitions are predicated on our varying cultures, educational backgrounds, occupations, etc.

  • who the f pays 3k for CH, Hell I just charge my new tenants 3k for park slope.

  • armchair_warrior said:

    who the f pays 3k for CH, Hell I just charge my new tenants 3k for park slope.

    Is Park Slope worth three grand? ;-)

  • depends on what you paid for a ch place vs a ps place. and what the market will bare.

  • PS is clearly worth 3k to some. ...Just like CH is worth it to others.

    In essence, that sums up the struggle the pro-tenant folks find themselves up against: The laws on the books say the apartments are worth a much lower amount than the amount that would be determined by the market ...the intersection of demand and supply.

  • CH still have alot of affordable places to buy. that is why I'm shock at the 3k sticker price. PS has no real good deals.

  • I'll received joke. Of course who you are determines what is affordable to you.

  • Armchair-

    As you are aware, aspiring landlords will pay more for a building with rent stabilized units IF those units are delivered vacant, or (as may be the case above) the tenants do not have current leases. Lots of investment buildings seem to be coming on to the market in this manner, and THEN the units are listed at high rates in order for the LL to recoup their investment.

    Another aspect of CH which is influencing the rents is the age of the renters.

    As a result of being young, they are willing to split an apartment. This means they pay less individually (1500 each), yet the apartment rents for more than it would if the LL rented it to a small family.

    In the case of rent stabilized apartments, young tenants also mean that the LL has the potential of getting regular Vacancy Allowances (20%) and/or a tenant which doesn't care if their total rent is above the HCR legal max.

    For the young, there is no comparison between PS and CH. In PS, they are less likely to tolerate shares; The LLs are more likely to require job histories; The neighbors aren't believed to be young and good looking.

    As a LL, If you can tolerate the above, buy an investment property in CH. As a tenant, if you can tolerate the above, rent in CH.

    We now have bagels.

  • Note, perceived violations of the rent stabilization rules are handled by HCR.

    http://www.nyshcr.org/Rent/factsheets/orafac16.htm

    But I think it is wise that all tenants are aware of this database:

    http://www.nysba.org/AM/Template.cfm?Section=LegalEASE_Informational_Pamphlets&ContentID=46338&Template=/CM/ContentDisplay.cfm

    Like it or not, many Landlords use the database to ensure that they never rent to a tenant who has ever been involved in housing court.

  • bkrest said:

    http://blogs.villagevoice.com/runninscared/2012/04/courts_will_sto.php

    the New York State office of court administration (oca

    ) formerly sold New York city court information,

    including tenants’ names and addresses, in bulk electronic form by a computer-to-computer transfer.

    in March2012, the oca announced that it will no longer include the names of tenants involved in New York

    city Housing court eviction proceedings in the electronic data feed it sells to tenant screening companies.

    the oca’s decision to omit this information from the electronic data feed is a victory for tenants

    because it will now be much harder for

    landlords to engage in blacklisting.

    this development does not, however,mean that blacklisting is over. the oca continues to provide a daily electronic feed of all new cases and updates on pending ones. although the feed will not contain the tenants’

    names, it is not difficult to match an index number to the tenant’s name through the court’s public access computer. Until the oca stops providing the electronic feed to the data companies, tenant blacklisitng will continue.

    http://www.nysba.org/AM/Template.cfm?Section=LegalEASE_Informational_Pamphlets&ContentID=46338&Template=/CM/ContentDisplay.cfm

    kinda pointless isn't it.

  • Yes, as Armchair shows from my link from the Bar Assn, the courts still sell the indexes to the data. It is a little more work for the database companies, but still well worth it to them and the LLs.

    Tenant Advocates who don't inform tenants of this very real, ongoing risk to their future ability to rent an apartment do them a very large disservice. Individal tenants should not be used merely as pawns by tenant organizers in the pursuit of their larger goals; They should be given clear information, and then allowed to decide what is best for themselves.

    Often, the tenants decide the fight isn't worth it. They then move, and the LL gets then next best thing: A Vacancy Allowance.

  • The law itself is really lame, the cost will be passed onto the tenants.

    I used to do free checks for potential tenants :p. but people abuse the shit out of it. It cost me alot of money. So i just charge a fee took many unqualified people out of the pool right off the bat.

    seriously people can't have nice things.

    Not all landlords are bad people and not all tenants are good people etc..

    I been extremely nice to my tenants and I gotten burn by some tenants cause of my niceness and I gotten harder and harder just to deal with people like that.

    no good deed goes unpunished.

  • I hear you, Armchair.

    As a result of its lack of enforcement, and general toothlessness, the law is considered by many LLs to already be nothing more than mildly irritating.

    When all else fails, LLs will usually pay a tenant to leave and then submit receipts to HCR showing that they did enough renovations to the unit while it was vacant to get out of stabilization.

    Needless to say, tenants in non gentrifying areas (are there any?) don't face these pressures.