1059 Union St- Ground Zero for Landlord/Tenant battles?
  • This discussion was created from comments split from: Changes on Franklin between Eastern Parkway and Carroll.
  • the building on the NE corner of Franklin and Union is seeing lots of action.

    1059 Union,
    aka 829 Franklin, 831 Franklin, 833 Franklin, 835 Franklin

    untitled

    Tenant advocates believe that the landlord should not experience increases above the rate set by the Rent Stabilization Board, while the LL clearly believes that s/he should be able to exercise their "property rights" in a way that results in higher rents.

    To my knowledge, the tenant advocates have not been able to prove the LL has done anything illegal. If they do have evidence of illegal behavior, they don't seem to have yet been able to get the city to do anything powerful in response to it.


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  • Perhaps needless to say, this brings up the issue of "affordable housing", and the degree to which NYC (now under DeBlasio's leadership) is willing and able to protect it.

    "Is the city willing to forgo the benefits of having comparatively wealthy people, in exchange for the benefits of having comparatively poor ones?"

    This isn't simple matter of "more people want x than y, so lets choose x";

    Laws constrain the ability of the Mayor and others to implement their wishes.

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  • This is interesting but not sure what it has to do with Maiman's Pharmacy anymore. Do you want some of these posts split off into a new thread that's more topical?
  • Sure. We have basically been talking about the "Changes Happening on Franklin between EP and Carroll".

    That could be a good title. Have fun sorting the various posts. Thanks
  • Total non-sequitur, but that apartment building on the corner of Franklin and Union is actually where Bobby Fisher grew up.  He later moved to an apartment on the southwest corner of Franklin and Lincoln Place.
  • @mcpoet great aside. I went looking for more info on the apartment on Franklin and Union, but could only find a brief reference on Wikipedia saying it was "inexpensive." I guess there's not much more to it than that!
  • Yeah, I only found out about it while watching a documentary on Fisher that came out in the last couple years.  It mentioned that he was living on Lincoln Place, so I googled it and realized that it was right on the corner of Franklin and Lincoln Place.  It was only after some digging that I found out that the original apartment was on Union, which was even crazier, as I could see that building right out the window from where I was sitting on my couch.  Here's an article that mentions the apartments. He was born when they were living in 1059 Union and then later moved to 560 Lincoln Place (Apt. Q).  The documentary was excellent, detailing both his rise to grandmaster, and his subsequent alienation, exile, and bizarre, conspiracy filled (generally anti-Semitic) interviews (which were all the more bizarre given that he was of Jewish descent). 

    http://www.geocities.com/SiliconValley/Lab/7378/fischer.htm

    Here's the imdb page for the documentary: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1777551/
  • Here's some more info about the present fate of the residents of 1059 Union St., and the demonstration that was hosted last week:

    http://www.bkbureau.org/2014/03/03/tenants-form-union-to-fight-gentrification/

    Making room for new people with new money isn't a pretty process....
  • whynot_31 said:


    New:




    By the way, I wanted to point out (in case no one else has done so already) that recently this entrance at the Franklin Avenue station has been closed for renovations. Interesting.
  • FYI--Over the last several days scaffolding has gone up around 1059 Union.
  • Uh, oh - this is getting ugly.

    Do the tenants have to take a buyout?
  • They don't have to, but life often becomes unpleasant if they don't.

    The deck is stacked against the tenants and their advocates.

    This isn't a case where "majority" rules.

    The LL takes the perspective of "we tried to be nice, you didn't respond".
  • This site lists all of the complaints against 1059 Union, and gives readers how bad that building was: 


    Now, I believe the building has been sold and is under a new owner.    They are investing lots of $ into clearing up the violations, repointing the exterior, etc.

    ....soon most of the units in the building will be renovated and freed from rent stabilization.      

    A few (very durable) tenants might resist taking the payouts and be able to endure the construction.   My guess is 20%.

    Needless to say, their "durability" will merely result in them living in an apartment that has not been upgraded in decades.    

    ....only the vacated units are renovated, because only they result in more rent.
      
    streetview
  • These violations sound like they are for stuff that can be repaired without having to do a complete renovation. There is a line between repairing something that is broken or worn down due to wear and tear and repainting it in such a way that would qualify for an MCI. How difficult should it be to repair wornout floor tiles?
  • The prior LL let the building decline.


    The new owners are:

    Repointing the building.
    Upgrading the electrical.
    Redoing all of the hallways.
    Putting in new fixtures in the bathrooms.
    Upgrading all of the appliances.

    The goal is not to make the present tenants stop complaining to DOB;   the goal is to escape rent stabilization to get the "full value" of the apartments, as defined by the intersection of supply and demand.

    It is legal.

  • I understand it is legal.

    The tenants also want to their habitability issues addressed as they should be by law.

    A middle ground would be nice. 
  • As a result of having no market power (i.e.  the LL is not interested in their continued business), an ineffective DOB, AND a housing court that has far more pressing issues to deal with, I don't have much advice for them.

    Those that plan on exercising their rights to stay might want to hire a handy man or take home repair classes at the Community College.   




  • Tenants who live in the building are being offered buyouts, but are realizing that -even though it may be more money than they have ever had- it is not in their long term interests to take it.

    http://www.brownstoner.com/blog/2014/05/tenants-in-bed-stuy-crown-heights-refuse-buyout-offers/

    I am all for people fully asserting their rights.
  • whynot_31 said:

    Tenants who live in the building are being offered buyouts, but are realizing that -even though it may be more money than they have ever had- it is not in their long term interests to take it.

    http://www.brownstoner.com/blog/2014/05/tenants-in-bed-stuy-crown-heights-refuse-buyout-offers/

    I am all for people fully asserting their rights.



    The long-time resident in the apartment next to mine supposedly turned down $30K.  Probably a smart move... she'd blow through most of that quickly on drugs and alcohol alone.  
  • If she ever changes her mind, I hope the buyout is still available.

    I'd hate for her to turn down a buy out only to be evicted a months from now because she got behind on rent.

    Now that there are "better" tenants waiting to replace her, the LLs won't hesitate to pursue eviction.
  • So shady. 


    Pressured to Move, Low-Income Tenants Resist Buyouts


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    Crown Heights is one of several once-modest Brooklyn neighborhoods that have suddenly become attractive to real-estate investors and the high-dollar tenants they hope to attract.

    Advocates say it’s becoming more common for landlords hoping to increase rent rolls to off four- and five-figure buyouts to tenants.

    By: Ian Marsh

    Marcia McLean is a hard-working health-care professional who lives with her extended family in the same Crown Heights apartment that she’s occupied for nearly 30 years. Her landlord had been trying to convince her to accept a cash buyout and relocate to another apartment the landlord would find for her in a less desirable neighborhood.

    She refused the offer last year, but agreed to move out temporarily while her apartment was renovated. When she tried to move back in last October, the landlord had changed the lock, saying the repairs were yet to be done, she says.

    read the rest here:

    http://www.bkbureau.org/2014/05/27/pressured-to-move-low-income-tenants-resist-buyouts/




  • Choice quotes (in case you're too busy to read the article above)

    "Complaints have become so pervasive that the Department of Housing Preservation and Development has placed 1059 Union Street. in its Alternate Enforcement Program. Only 200 buildings with the most pervasive violations are entered into the program each year. Under the program, landlords are told to make necessary repairs within a few month time. If they refuse, HPD will hire a contractor to do the work and then bill the landlord. According to HPD, the building at 1059 Union Street has 77 open violations, including everything from leaking pipes to missing carbon monoxide detectors.

    BCB Realty, which only bought the building in 2013, is offering buyouts to long-term tenants while at the same time failing to adequately maintain the apartments of long term residents, according to Weaver.

    Betty Rice, a tenant at 1059 Union St., complained of the condition of her apartment and the building in general. She says workers had done shoddy repairs on her apartment, there were problems with heat and hot water, and bells in her building didn't work. Even the new tenants who paid higher rent came to tenant association meetings and complained, according to Rice. BCB offered her a buyout, but she did not even consider negotiating a price, as she would not be able to stay in the neighborhood with even a five-figure buyout, she says."

    http://www.bkbureau.org/2014/05/27/pressured-to-move-low-income-tenants-resist-buyouts/

  • In the late 1990s, I worked closely with a tenant advocacy organization that was active on the Lower East Side during "this same stage" of gentrification.

    We provided them lots of education re: their rights, and how to evaluate whether they should take a buyout.

    The issues were the same. Long term tenants struggled to understand why the city did not force the new landlords of "distressed buildings" to repair the apartments of the long term tenants who did not take the buyouts.

    After seeing all of the new appliances and cabinets being delivered to their neighbors and looking in the doors at the completed units, It was as if they someday expected the contractors to get to their unit.

    Needless to say, they never arrived.

    As I walk around gentrified neighborhoods, I sometimes pause to look for holdout units. From the outside, they can often be spotted by:

    -ancient single pane wooden windows, vs two pane aluminum ones.

    -1940 era light fixtures vs track lights.

    -faded white curtains vs blinds.

    -layers of dingy off white paint on plaster vs a fresh coat on new drywall.

    Five years after the "big wave" hits the holdouts seem to have dwindled to about 10% of a buildings total units.
  • whynot_31 said:

    If she ever changes her mind, I hope the buyout is still available.

    I'd hate for her to turn down a buy out only to be evicted a months from now because she got behind on rent.

    Now that there are "better" tenants waiting to replace her, the LLs won't hesitate to pursue eviction.



    Trust me, the quotation marks definitely aren't needed there.  

    She's been there for many years, always the sad wreck she is now.  All the long-time residents in the building know her... and from speaking to some about her, it's clear there would be no tears shed at her departure.

    I'm not going to be actively pursuing her eviction... I recognize the larger societal injustices that helped foster such behavior... so I will bear the repercussions of what our culture and predecessors helped create in her, to a point beyond what I would accept in other situations.  That said, people like her make the work of tenant advocacy groups much more difficult.  
  • I predict others will pursue her eviction.
  • whynot_31 said:

    I predict others will pursue her eviction.



    I'm one of the only new (i.e. white) people in the building. Most of the rest of the building tenants have been here for many years, and they just put up with her. Mine is the only apartment that shares walls with hers anyway, so people only have to deal with her mess when her fights with her girlfriend spill into the hallways or out in front of the building. For instance, last night when she cut her girlfriend above the eye in a wild fight around 2:30am. The cops came shortly thereafter.

    Many residents of my building sit around smoking pot on the steps and in the halls all day anyway. Ours is basically the neighborhood hangout. There was a big drug bust of the house across the street this afternoon; 7-8 dudes carted off. I think it's ridiculous pot is illegal (though I have no interest in it) so I couldn't care less about all the pot smoking (and dealing) in our lobby. But I mention it to say no one in our building really cares about actively trying to chase off our crazy neighbor.

    It might not be a year or two from now, but Union Street in 2014 is still what it is.
  • Blocks with large, old rental buildings are often the last to change.

    For a long time, St. Johns Place between Underhill and Washington matched your description.

    Gradually, the landlords stopped accepting Section 8, and began investing in evicting people for Lease violations.

    Now, it no longer meets your description.

    As a result, my sense is that the landlord goes after the worst tenants in the beginning. Then, as the process accelerates, the new and old tenants join in.

    ...at some point, an invisible new flag flies over the building.
  • The tenant advocates will be out this weekend:


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    Those who live along the route might get to hear some singing and chanting.

    As one might expect, those most active in trying to prevent the rent increases and get the apartments repaired tend to be:

    - long time, female, middle age, Caribbean-American, employed residents.

    - young idealist, white, recent graduates who feel an obligation to save the above.

     
  • I have a question which may have an obvious answer which I am missing, but it's been bugging me... So the union wants a rent freeze (I've see that around) and making all sorts of other demands; what are they offering in return?  When you have a company which employs workers, a union has leverage through a threat of a strike, etc. as the company needs the employees.  What leverage do these tenants have if the LLs do not run afoul of the law?  They can't stop paying or they will get evicted and will be replaced quite easily (and happily).  So is it just the threat of a march/singing/chanting?
  • I agree, they clearly do not have such power.

    As a result, I have to assume they either mistakenly believe they have said power, or are putting the promise of future power out there to attract members.

    I like the parts about them helping tenants think thru what is best for them individually, but think think idea of a building united powerful "union" among and between long term residents and young "gentrifiers" is pure fantasy.
  • Strength in numbers?

    That temporary restraining order against 626 Flatbush didn't come out of thin air. 
  • That TRO is based on a lawsuit pending against HFA, not on the basis of populism.
  • I just did a google search for 1059 Union, and the renovated units don't appear to be available for rent yet.

    From what I have heard, the new owners are working on the building's facade and systems (heating, plumbing, etc) first, and hope to renovate actual apartments once they have enough of them vacant that it is cost effective in terms of labor, buying appliances and cabinets in bulk, etc.
  • If 1059 Union is also known as 835 Franklin Ave...then prepare to be amazed.
    $3850/month for a renovated 4-bedroom.
  • Ah, I forgot to search under its Franklin addresses.    Those prices are not actually surprising to me.

    Much thanks.

    Now, we need to just do a little more for our readers:

    1.  Based on the above discussion, have them imagine what the un-renovated, rent stabilized units look like.   Or, score some photos.  

    2.  Get them prices for the rent stabilized apartments.

    3.  Ask them whether they would accept the tradeoff between 1 and 2, given the constraint that rejecting the tradeoff would basically mean leaving NYC or moving to a NYC neighborhood that is far less convenient, familiar, attractive and safe.  

    4.  Have our readers realize that if NYC was to step up its code enforcement, to the degree that apartments were "more than merely safe" the costs of the resulting upgrades might be able to be passed on to tenants.   This could mean rent increases that cause the tenant to move out, thus defeating the advocates' goals of keeping a "diverse neighborhood".     

    As a result of my thoughts on the subject, I have concluded that when someone is low income in NYC, their choice is often between a decrepit apartment and no apartment.   

    The only real way to change this is to win a HPD housing lottery, in which you are able to live in a building run by a LL which is not driven by a profit motive:   

    This sad conclusion stems, in part, from rent stabilization not being designed as a program for the poor.   The tenant advocates rarely mention that one can make up to $200k and live in a rent stabilized apartment.     http://www.nyshcr.org/Rent/factsheets/orafac26.htm

    As a result, tenants of rent stabilized apartments not necessarily poor, and they are treated by "the system" as if they have the ability to fend for themselves (ie the power to move, and/or hire someone to improve their apartments), whether this is true of not.
     
    This is in sharp contrast to tenants involved in poverty based programs (ie Section 8, NYCHA).   They are assumed to need the assistance of "the system", and there are pretty strict regulations regarding habitability.    As a result of these regulations, tenants who live in apartments paid for by Section 8 often have units in better repair than those merely in Rent Stabilized apartments. Landlords agree to abide by the regulations in exchange for continued participation (ie $) in the Section 8 program.     

    Rent Stabilization has no such carrot.   

    ...and DOB's stick is only used in the most dire of circumstances.
  • Here's one population that government ensures receives renovated apartments, without having to pay more money in rent:

    http://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20140609/chelsea/chelsea-home-for-blind-get-38m-upgrade

    Sorry, residents of 1059 Union (835 Franklin), you are not as worthy/needy.
  • Open house June 14th:

    If 1059 Union is also known as 835 Franklin Ave...then prepare to be amazed.

    $3850/month for a renovated 4-bedroom.


    Needless to say, it looks like the landlord put enough money into this unit to legally escape rent stabilization.
  • It looks nicely done. Do I see a WINE cooler?
  • I didn't look close enough to see if it had a wine cooler, but the wine store I like to imagine is named after me (Winot) is close by.

    Lately, I have been thinking about what seems to be the central demands of the tenant advocates: A Zero Percentage Increase in the Rent Stabilization Legal Rent.

    To me, it seems as if it would punish the landlords who are abiding by the current rules, and continuing to participate in the program.

    As the difference between market rate and the RS rate grows, landlords will be more likely to offer the (completely legal) payouts to tenants and then do the (completely legal) types of expensive improvements that free the units from regulation.

  • I would be really nervous if there was a rent freeze for the reasons you note, whynot. I think it would totally dis-incentivize landlords who are willing to stick with the rent stabilization program to maintain their buildings, and could encourage on-the-fence landlords to shift into a more heavy-handed deregulation tactics. I'm hoping that REBNY does the responsible thing and votes for modest, reasonable rent increases. I like a lot of what the CH Tenants Union is doing, particularly educating people about their rights, but I think their demands for legally binding contracts are short-sighted and totally unrealistic.


  • Before tenants decide to accept a buyout, I like that tenants are being encouraged to think about how long a buy out will last, and to negotiate for the highest price.

    I fear that the advocates look down on tenants who choose to leave, and fail to understand the complex array of pros and cons that this "neighborhood change" is creating for long term residents.

    In terms of repairs, I think it would be more empowering to tenants to be provided with workshops on how to do basic ones, than to be told to complain to HPD.

    ....HPD is not going to come fix your tile or your running toilet.
  • Both sides are stating that they can't budge from their positions:

    http://m.nydailynews.com/new-york/landlords-tenants-crossfire-rent-freeze-battle-looms-article-1.1830279#bmb=1

    Anyone have any predictions what the RGB will implement?

  • http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/23/nyregion/rents-for-stabilized-apartments-in-new-york-city-may-not-rise.html?ref=nyregion

    We will know tonight whether or not REBNY will freeze rate increases on rent-stabilized apartment leases. I am on tenterhooks. My prediction is that REBNY will vote for increases in the range of 2-3% for 1-year leases and 3-5% for 2-year leases.
  • I read that 5 of the 9 RCB members are DeBlasio appointees, so a temp freeze may happen.

    Needless to say, those who are presently receiving a preferential rent can still have it increased.
  • BTW, while 1059 Union is said to be in the HPD distressed building program, the city does have additional tools for landlords that are far worse.

    A really bad landlord can go to jail: http://m.nydailynews.com/new-york/brooklyn/city-worst-slumlords-tossed-slammer-article-1.1838226

  • The decision is in:   The amount of the increase for 1 and 2 year leases is, respectively 1% and 2.75%.    

    http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2014/06/23/nycs-rent-guidelines-board-to-vote-on-rent-freeze/


  • Neither landlords nor tenants advocates are happy. I think it is fair and modest, and helps to correct for several years of higher rate increases that may have caused a lot of problems for lower income or fixed income tenants.
  • Local politicians are realizing just how unsavvy some of their constituents are, and realize that they everything possible needs to be done to educate them about their rights, and making good decisions when offered buyouts.

    Buyouts should not always be accepted or rejected. image
  • Today, Al Jazeera published a piece about the flipping of 1059 Union:

    http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2014/7/9/the-new-kings-ofcrownheights.html