The main target of the new legislation is the widespread practice of “construction as harassment,” whereby landlords use invasive, unsafe, and sometimes illegal construction to drive out tenants. Typically the landlords are trying to get rent-regulated tenants out so they can charge market rents.
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman filed a lawsuit today against the property manager and landlords of several apartment buildings in Chinatown and the Lower East Side for allegedly harassing rent-controlled tenants with “repeated illegal and deceptive practices.” The complaint, filed in New York Supreme Court, accuses the buildings’ owners and Marolda Properties Inc., which manages the buildings, of attempting to bully tenants into vacating rent-regulated units using a variety of improper tactics.
Dozens of tenants and activists gathered blocks from the Tenement Museum on Thursday morning to protest what they claim are unsafe living conditions in two Lower East Side apartment buildings. A group of predominantly Chinese residents of 247 Broome Street and 135 Eldridge Street, many of whom live in rent-controlled units, complained of eviction threats, chronically ignored maintenance requests, shambolic common areas, and illegal construction in the buildings. The residents claim that R.A. Cohen & Associates, which manages both buildings, is deliberately mistreating low-income renters in an effort to push them out of their homes.
A group of a dozen small business owners and community advocates from Bushwick gathered at Esmeralda Valencia’s restaurant on Myrtle Avenue this morning with an alarming message on posterboard: “Los pequeños negocios nos declaramos en crisis”—We small businesses declare ourselves in crisis.
The Rent Guidelines Board has voted to freeze the rents on rent-stabilized apartments that are up for a one-year lease renewal between October 1, 2016 and September 30, 2017, and has agreed on a 2-percent increase for two-year leases. It’s the second year in a row that one-year leases will not face a rent increase– a move that had previously been unprecedented in the 47-year history of the board.