Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Quality Housing Act hearing in the City Council

The City Council held a hearing on the Quality Housing Act on Wednesday, Oct. 1st starting at 10 AM. 

New York City Council Members Ritchie Torres and Antonio Reynoso, with local tenants and advocates, introduced the Quality Housing Act on Wednesday, May 14, 2014. This new package of city legislation is designed to preserve affordable housing units around the city through stronger enforcement of the housing maintenance code and stiffer penalties for negligent landlords.

Click here for the full description of the law. 

Tenants Urge Repeal of Urstadt Law & of Vacancy Decontrol

‘We Need a Democratic Senate This Year': City Democrats Fight For Urstadt Repeal

By  | 

It’s a 40-year-old dream that city Democrats hope will come true next year.
A slew of city council and assembly members rallied at City Hall today to call for a rent freeze on rent-regulated apartments next year and, more ambitiously, the end of a law that has granted Albany great sway over how New York City regulates affordable housing.
“There are people running for governor right now and I do not know where they stand on Urstadt, including Governor Cuomo. I would like to know where he stands on repealing Urstadt and bringing Urstadt back to New York City,” said Councilman Jumaane Williams, the chair of the council’s housing and buildings committee. “I know that there will be some debates coming soon and I hope one of those questions to all of the candidates running for governor, including the current one, is where do you stand on the repeal of the Urstadt Law and bringing home rule to New York City?”
Read the full article  at http://observer.com/2014/09/we-need-a-democrat-senate-this-year-city-democrats-fight-for-urstadt-repeal/#ixzz3EphVbLBu 

Some tenants who spoke:  Clara Perez Joseph of Neighbors Helping Neighbors, Thomas Williams of the Flatbush Tenant Coalition, and Sharon Canns, a tenant leader of Tenants & Neighbors.


Additional articles: http://brooklyn.news12.com/news/city-councilman-jumaane-williams-urges-repeal-of-urstadt-law-on-rent-control-and-stabilization-1.7965786





Monday, September 29, 2014

Year of the Tenant - Rally Tues. 9/30 at 11 AM, City Hall

Tuesday, Sept. 30
11:00 am @ City Hall
Rally and Press Conference
Join a coalition of city-wide tenants, advocates and elected officials at a rally
to kick-off the renewed campaign for a rent freeze.
On Oct. 1st the 2014 RGB decisions go into effect.  We will stand together to continue our demand that the Mayor’s Rent Guidelines Board give New Yorkers —
a Rent Freeze in 2015! Let’s make it happen!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

City Council Doubles Landlord Fines for Harassment

City Council News Release - SePTEMBER 23, 2014

Landlords Found Guilty of Tenant Harassment Will Now Be Fined up to $10,000 Per Apartment and Listed by Name as Offenders on HPD Website

Today, the New York City Council will pass legislation by Council Members Margaret Chin and Jumaane D. Williams that will double the maximum fines for landlords found guilty of tenant harassment, and will force those landlords to be publicly listed as offenders on the website of the City’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD).

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Can a stabilized tenant be forced to sell lease in bankruptcy?

NY Times

New York City and State Join Effort to Shield Stabilized Leases

New York City and state officials have thrown their weight behind an elderly widow
fighting to keep her rent-stabilized lease from becoming an asset with which to pay
off her creditors, arguing that it would undermine the safeguards that both bankruptcy
and rent laws are supposed to provide.

In a brief filed jointly this week with the state’s Court of Appeals, lawyers from the 
state attorney general’s office and New York City’s Law Department said that, under 
current law, a lease for a rent-regulated apartment is not property that can be sold. 
Such a lease, they argued, amounts to a public benefit, just like disability or unemployment benefits, that is exempted from bankruptcy estate and cannot be seized as an asset in a personal bankruptcy.  [Website comment: it is more similar to the exemption for a "homestead" - currently valued at $150,000 or less.] 
Click on the link above for the full article, and on "read more" below for 
Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal's bill to ensure the exemption of a stabilized 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Gotham Gazette on Rent Wars

Gouging Begins in Latest Battle Over Rent
by David Howard King, Sep 16, 2014

When Mayor Bill de Blasio declared early in his tenure that he would like to see the City regain control of its rent laws from the State many insiders laughed. "Why would we let that go?" asked one legislator. "Control is worth more than one election cycle."
What exactly is it worth to state legislators? According to a New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG) study of campaign donations during the last state-level campaign cycle of 2011-2012, real estate and construction interests gave $7,523,955 to legislators and were the top donors of any business sector to each legislative conference.

Harlem Tenants Sue for Overcharges

. . . . On Sunday, Mr. Wright, a state assemblyman, stood at the 
Riverton gates waving his rent receipt as he announced the 
filing of a $10 million lawsuit against the property’s managers.

The lawsuit, which was filed on Friday in State Supreme Court 
in Manhattan, claims that CWCapital Asset Management and an 
affiliate, Compass Rock Real Estate, have been systemically 
overcharging tenants as part of an effort to oust longtime 
residents and charge more for Riverton apartments.

Click here for the rest of the NY Times article  and 
click here for the Real Deal article.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Tenants Bill of Rights passes NYC Council

From Met Council on Housing:

VICTORY - TENANTS' BILL OF RIGHTS PASSES NYC COUNCILOn Wednesday, the NYC Council approved a version of the Met Council on Housing's "Tenants' Bill of Rights" to empower and educate everyday New Yorkers about their rights as tenants.Controversy about the legality of the bill as written (which would require the Tenants' Bill of Rights to be posted in every building) held the bill up for years. The bill that was passed last week requires HPD to make the document available on their website an for distribution.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Dems in State Senate? Landlords Scared.

The Real Deal
State Dems eye rent reform ahead of elections

Landlords are bracing for political change this fall as Democrats stand poised to take the Senate and introduce a number of pro-tenant measures. 

Senate Democratic leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins could replace Republican Dean Skelos as State Senate majority leader, Crain’s reported. That development would put a staunch advocate of rent reform in the driver’s seat. Stewart-Cousins is the main sponsor of legislation that would repeal a provision allowing landlords to deregulate apartment units if they remain vacant or if rent surpasses $2,500 a month, according to the newspaper. 

See more at: http://therealdeal.com/blog/2014/09/09/state-dems-eyeing-rent-reform-ahead-of-elections/#sthash.sD5ni5vO.dpuf

De Blasio housing agenda relies on a Democratic State Senate

NY Times,

De Blasio’s Goal to Aid His Agenda: Put New York Senate in Democrats’ Hands

"Speaking to more than 100 of his top campaign donors, Mr. de Blasio made clear that his top policy priorities — immigration reform, rent protections and a higher minimum wage in New York City — could depend on fellow Democrats’ regaining control of the Senate this fall, removing what has long been an impediment to cherished liberal causes."  [Link to the Real Deal article added.]

"Despite being the state’s most powerful Democrat, Mr. Cuomo has been lukewarm about the prospect of his party’s controlling the Senate. The centrist governor has found Republican leaders to be useful partners in pursuing tax cuts and cutting deals on legislation."

Friday, September 12, 2014

Downsizing hits more Section 8 tenants

NY Times
Budget Cuts Reshape New York's Public Housing
by Mireya Navarro, Sept. 11, 2014

The crushing news came less than a year after Diane Robinson and her 24-year-old son moved into
an airy two-bedroom apartment in the Bronx. The city, which helps pay her rent, wrote this summer to say she would have to downsize into a one-bedroom apartment or pay $240 more a month in rent.
Click here for the full article. 

Illegal Hotels Campaign Rally - 11 AM Friday, Sept. 12, 2014

This Friday at 11 AM, join a broad coalition of elected officials, tenants’ advocates, residents, and allies to announce the kickoff of a campaign to push back and raise awareness of the problems and dangers posed by illegal hotel activity, at a 
Rally and press conference on the steps of New York City Hall.  
Come early to get through security. 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

State Senator Liz Krueger's Message on Affordable Housing

Excerpted from State Senator Liz Krueger's monthly email update for September 2014:

"The most important change that we must win next year is a full repeal of vacancy decontrol, which is far and away the leading cause of deregulation under the current law. This is because even if a unit does not have a rent that exceeds the threshold – currently $2500 – landlords can do renovations to push the legal rent up high enough to deregulate. Other landlords simply choose to stop registering units with the Division of Housing and Community Renewal when a unit becomes vacant, and the new tenant often never realizes their apartment has been illegally deregulated.  The ability to automatically deregulate vacant apartments once they hit a certain threshold has led to significant increases in tenant harassment, building deterioration, and real estate speculation.  Ending vacancy decontrol would help address all of these problems."

CLICK on "read more" below for the full message. 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Tenant choices don't prevail in most of the primaries

Independent Dem Conference stronger than before

City & State


Klein's election night victory was a show of strength for his Independent Democratic Conference, who could be more powerful than ever.

The New York state Senate Independent Democratic Conference, once thought to be in danger of falling apart, could go into the next legislative session more powerful than ever after its leader, Sen. Jeff Klein, handily defeated his Democratic primary opponent Oliver Koppell Tuesday night. 

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

80/20 rich/affordable housing fosters gentrification.

Moses Gates of the Association of Neighborhood & Housing Development has written a good blog post on why building developments that are 80% for the rich and only 20% affordable only helps to gentrify neighborhoods.  We need a better proportion of affordable apartments!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Preparing for NEXT year's Rent Guidelines Board . . .

The Rent Guidelines Board vote for 2014 is over - and rent stabilized tenants won the smallest increase in decades.  But there annual pressure from the landlord lobby to raise rent stabilized rents. In response to that pressure, Tom Waters, Senior Housing Analyst of the Community Service Society, wrote this excellent piece. Click on "read more" below.

Return Control over Rents to the City!

Mayor de Blasio wants to take control of rent regulation from state lawmakers
For years, Republicans in the Senate have opposed efforts by Democrats and tenant advocates to strengthen the rent regulation laws to make it harder for property owners to shift their apartments to the free market. But if Democrats take control of the Senate in November, the de Blasio administration could be allowed to rule on rent regulation.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Elections and Tenants - hear a speaker on 9/17

Help Get Out the Vote on Tuesday, 

and then come hear

Chuck DeLaney, board member of Tenants PAC, talk about how the elections affect us all.
speaking on 

  • Wed., Sept 17, 2014 at 8 PM
  • 50 West 97th St., Community Room.


Stop Illegal Hotels

Illegal hotels have plagued New York City for more than a decade. The problem has reached critical mass with the arrival of Airbnb and other companies. We see cheery ads showing people sharing brunch with their house guests, but illegal hotel activities create problems for residents and tourists alike. For New Yorkers, illegal hotels can mean unsafe, disruptive and sometimes unsavory activities in their buildings, and exacerbate our housing crisis by taking thousands of affordable rent regulated units off the market. Residents also run a risk of eviction and violation of their leases and/or the bylaws of their coop/condo agreements.

Tourists run the risk of being ripped off by unscrupulous profiteers and risk their own safety, because the standards for residential buildings differ from hotel standards. Hotels require more comprehensive fire codes, sprinklers, and secondary egress.

Met Council on Housing invites you to join elected officials, tenants, and advocates for the kick off press conference and the announcement of a new coalition to stop illegal hotels in New York City on Friday, September 12, at 11 A.M. on the steps of City Hall.

Airbnb's major public relations and lobbying campaign aims to repeal or cripple New York's illegal hotel law. There is a new coalition forming to fight back, and we hope your organization can join it.

We need a big showing, and for lots of groups to endorse and join the coalition!

Please share this information widely.

What: Illegal Hotels Campaign Kickoff
WhenFriday, September 12, 11AM
Where: Steps of City Hall

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Primary Election: Vote as a Tenant - Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2014

Voting makes a difference.  On Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2014, in the Bronx and Queens, vote against the Independent Democrat  Conference that Gov. Cuomo encouraged to caucus with (and therefore give the majority to) the State Senate Republicans.  

And all over New York, let Governor Cuomo know (with a protest vote) that you're not happy with his doing that!  

Click on "read more" for candidates in the Brooklyn, Bronx, Manhattan and Queens. Volunteer to help Get Out the Vote.  See how below.

Mapping Unequal Access to Amenities

By our calculation, five buildings on the Upper West Side have such policies in place, which affect around 600 rent stabilized tenants in the area.

NYC will require most builders to include affordable apartments

NY Times:
The next time a New York City developer seeks permission to replace a derelict factory with a shimmering condo tower, the heated swimming pool and sky-lit roof lounge will have to be accompanied by another amenity: affordable housing. . . . 

See where they will be built.