Tenant's Associations- Worth the Trouble? — Brooklynian

Tenant's Associations- Worth the Trouble?

My building recently fired our beloved Super for no good reason (really, even he hasn't been given a real, factual reason). A lot of us tenants are signing a letter expressing our sadness with this decision. It's being kept very professional and friendly in the hopes keeping retaliation from the management company to a minimum. It raises the question though, would there me more protection in such a letter if it came from a Tenant's Association and should we form one before going forward? Are TAs worth the trouble or would we just be starting up more of a problem because then we would all be suffering through tenants meetings and inevitably having to deal more closely with the (limited) crazy tenants we sane folk otherwise get to ignore? Would forming one be more likely to incite the wrath of the management company? On the other hand, would forming one help to keep tabs on things like what the legal rent is for various apartments? Do the kind people here have experiences with these sorts of groups?

Also, our Super does have legal representation, but it seems lately there has been a rash of Super-Abuse if you will. As buildings get safer I think building owners have less incentive to keep them on, but in our case he was replaced with (a not very professional) someone else. Does anyone know of any sort of protections that Supers have?


  • New York is an "employed at will" state which means anyone can be fired for anytime for any reason or no reason at all. Unless of course they're in a union. That aside, the tenants in the building don't know exactly why the super was fired and the landlord doesn't have to give you a reason. My take is if they hired a new super then the landlord isn't looking to get out of having one employed. Best to wait a few weeks and see what happens with the new guy. Then if there's a problem with him you should voice your concerns to the landlord.

  • Tenants Associations vary in purpose.

    Some seem to exist mainly to collect donations to decorate the lobby for the holidays, while others tackle far more serious issues: Lack of heat, drug activity, tenant harassment, and violation of the rent stabilization rules.

    If you and your neighbors are facing serious issues, I'd approach an organization like PACC for advice


    ...but if it is "only" the dismissal of an employee, I tned to agree with PragmaticGuy.

  • The issue of dismissal is something the Super and his lawyer will work out. We and his lawyer think a letter of support about him could possibly strengthen his case. I do know the flimsy reasons he was told he was fired. In the last couple years this management company has been making more and more shady decisions including illegally raising the legal rent on all newly vacant apartments. Some of us want to gently make management aware that we're willing to band together if need be. There are a couple really old people in the building that the now outgoing Super kept an eye on. With him gone Management may be more able to route out people who have been paying low rent stabilized prices for 45 years here. With the firing of this guy some of us are feeling the need to circle up the wagons.

    Other than that, things the tenants want are stuff like security cameras in the super creepy laundry room and to request bike racks in one of the unused bomb shelter rooms in the basement. Most people coming in, myself included, hasn't wanted to get on the Landlord Naughty List for bringing up the fact that after signing a lease we found out the "legal" rent was pushed up too high. In one case they literally doubled the amount for a studio. Would forming a tenant's association alleviate some of this or would the tenant still get put on the Bad List?

  • The fact is this....even if the super wins his case at best he'll get money but not his job back. So...you can write all the letters in the world but it's not going to help you any. And may make things even worse as you don't own the building the landlord does. Besides, anything you and the other tenants can do to make the attorney's job easier he'll ask you to do. No skin off his back. I wouldn't write a letter as pertains to this case but if you like the super that much I would offer to have all the tenants write a letter of reference when he goes looking for a new job.

  • So, the new Super is very shady.  I tried to not take it out on him that he replaced someone great and gave him the benefit of the doubt.  He has now lied though in ways that make no sense to me.  He came in to fix something in my apartment last week and came in saying "I fucking hate this damn building".  I understand that I can't control the language of everyone in the city, but I did dislike that he was throwing around that language when A) he doesn't know me and B) my toddler was sitting right there.  He then goes on to tell me how the building is full of drunks and drug addicts (it's not).  He said it was so bad people were leaving dirty diapers and used needles in the trash compacter rooms, including on my floor, and this is completely untrue.  I know he's upset from being moved from an Upper East Side building but I can't figure out why he is being so aggressive and unpleasant.  Also why he thinks I would respond well to his ranting about a building that I quite like.  He made a point to asking if we had a tenant's association because mop buckets are being stolen from the basement (that must be why the floors are never cleaned anymore).  So he's going to call the cops.  About missing buckets.  

    Anyway, I don't trust him in the slightest, but told him I needed my tub snaked out.  He said he needed to call the plumber, but he hasn't followed up.  I really don't want him in my apartment anymore and was wondering if any of you knew how much it would cost to have someone come over and do this and whether anyone had any recommendations.  I suppose I should also go to the building management with my concerns?  At least so if he starts throwing strange lies about me I've already laid down a basis?  And to the original point of my posting in November, would it be worth forming a tenant's association, or loose group in order to express our dislike of this guy?
  • This statement makes me suspect he perceives you as a potential ally:

    "Also why he thinks I would respond well to his ranting about a building that I quite like"

    Clearly, you do not hold mutual feelings toward him.

    Dare I ask, Are you among the few residents of the building that share his hue?

  • I suspected something similar, especially once the stereotypes were brought up in "all these guys who just sit around , not working, smoking weed, and causing trouble". Which is again, not true. We do not share the same ethnicity but do share a similar hue. He also has taken great pains to tell me that when he worked on the UES all the white people in the building liked him and no white person complained about him ever, while touching his arm and saying "you know what I mean?". Blech. I dislike him a lot. I have not responded warmly to anything he's said, but with his general shadiness neither have I yelled back at him that he's barking up the wrong damn tree. Sorry of how you placate a ranting cab driver while driving over a bridge.
  • edited April 2014
    There are others of my hue though, which is where it gets wierder almost. I do tend to be home more often. It's a remarkably diverse building though. I should talk to others in the building and see if he's pulling this with others, in either direction.
  • Yes, it would not surprise me if he was testing the waters to see who might be willing to document complaints about other tenants, etc.

    Such alliances aren't always built on hue, but it is a traditional place to um, "test the waters".

    He may be giving folks who do not share his hue a slightly different speech, but his goal may be same: Endear himself to those who he thinks will help him.

    This is all speculation, of course.

    Here's a similar recent thread: http://www.brooklynian.com/discussion/38474/new-building-owners-raising-rent-in-crown-heights/p3

  • If the tub is stopped up try Draino or Liquid Plumber first. It's cheap and might work. Tub drains are not that large. You could probably get a hand snake from Home Depot or the local hardware store for less than $20 and do it yourself.
  • These folks had a really bad landlord experience, formed a tenant union and I suspect conclude it was worth the trouble:

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