NYC’s Endangered Species: A Rent-Controlled Apartment

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Lucy Levy, a rent-controlled tenant who has lived in her two-bedroom apartment on Ninth Street in the Village since 1955, pays $2,100 a month.

Adi Talwar

Lucy Levy, a rent-controlled tenant who has lived in her two-bedroom apartment on Ninth Street in the Village since 1955, pays $2,100 a month.

They are the dama gazelles of the New York City rental market. From a high of more than 2 million in the 1950's, there are now only 27,000 "rent-controlled" apartments in the city – down from 38,000 just three years ago.

Rent-controlled tenants live in buildings built before 1947 and have lived there continuously since 1971. They tend to be seniors on fixed incomes. They are beneficiaries of the city's first rent control laws, which were established after World War II to protect returning soldiers and their families from being gouged by greedy landlords.

And due to tenancy succession rules, which require cohabitants or family members to live in an apartment two consecutive years before the lease holder passes away, the city could very well be looking at its last generation of rent-controlled residents. Like those gazelles of the Sahara Desert, they are approaching endangered species status.

This group is not to be confused with their statistically younger and more affluent first cousins," rent stabilized" tenants, who occupy just over 1 million apartments and represent 47 of the city rental market. Unlike rent-stabilized tenants who have to renew leases, rent-controlled tenants are considered "statutory" tenants. They basically come with the property.

So as various interest groups prepare to converge on Albany this spring to restore, strengthen or thwart the rent regulation laws, which are due to expire on June 15, rent-controlled tenants find themselves a minority within a minority, accounting for just 1.2 percent of the rental stock in the city.

And like any other endangered species, they are outnumbered and nervous.

"People pick on rent-control tenants because we're like the little kids in the school yard. There's so few of us, we can't fight back," says Lucy Levy, a rent-controlled tenant who has lived in her two-bedroom apartment on Ninth Street in the Village since 1955.

Bullied or not, the rent-controlled tenants have one big issue they want addressed this spring: a fix to the formula that has driven their rents sky high.

Urban legend

The prevailing misconception about rent-controlled tenants is that most of them are paying $250 a month for posh Manhattan digs. To be sure, some rent-controlled tenants pay very little in rent. Brooklyn Assemblyman Joe Lentol volunteered that he has a cousin in Greenpoint, a veteran on a fixed pension, who pays $150 a month for a three-room railroad apartment. But this is hardly the norm.

Recently released figures from the city's 2014 Housing and Vacancy Survey show that the median rent for a rent-controlled unit in the city is $1,020 a month — this for a population whose median household income is $29,000. By way of contrast, rent-stabilized households, whose median income is $40,600, are paying $1,300 a month in rent.

Thousands of rent-controlled tenants are shelling out $2,000 or more for rent each month, amounts that are inhaling upwards of 50 percent of their income.

"It's killing me," says Levy, a 61-year-old paralegal, about her $2,100 a month rent. "I'm paying a lot more than 50 percent of my take home pay to rent. My monthly rent increase was $150 [last year]. My salary hasn't gone up."

Olive Freud, a retired schoolteacher, and her husband, Edgar, a retired engineer, also pay more than $2,000 a month in rent for their rent-controlled, two-bedroom unit on West 72nd Street.

In her 80s, Freud says she and her husband can handle the payments for now. But if one of them were to pass away, it would be a struggle. Her 52-unit building is now 50 percent co-op, and she is angry that once she and her husband are gone, their apartment will become just another pricey Manhattan property for the super-rich. The "middle-class," she says, is getting shut out of the neighborhood.

"We are the kind of people that that made this neighborhood desirable," says Freud, a resident in her building since 1964. "We made sure the streets were taking care of, the parks were taken care of, we fought for good schools … A few people die and now the landlord is asking for millions. It is outrageous what's going on here."

Calculating the costs

The enemy, rent-controlled tenants and their advocates say, is the 45-year-old formula used to calculate the rent hikes. The formula was adopted by the city, but is now administered by the state Division of Housing and Community Renewal (DHCR). Under state law, the city cannot change the formula.

"The whole formula is grossly unfair," says Michael McKee, treasurer of the Tenants Political Action Committee and a board member of the Metropolitan Council on Housing. "It's archaic, and like any formula … that was enacted in 1970, it just makes no sense anymore."

The formula has two parts.

Every two years, the DHCR calculates what's called the "maximum base rent" for every rent-controlled apartment in the city. This dollar amount, based on water and sewer rates, property taxes and other data, serves as a ceiling for what can be charged for the apartment.

The second part to the formula is a rule that caps year-to-year rent increases at 7.5 percent. Mush the allowable rent hike and the "maximum base rent" together and one gets the "maximum collectible rent," the amount the landlord can actually charge the tenant.

If the landlord doesn't file an application with DHCR for the rent hike, the tenant won't pay it. And if the building isn't violation free, the rent hike won't be granted. Some have estimated that as much as a one-third of landlords with rent-controlled tenants don't apply for the rental increases, perhaps anticipating these tenants won't be around long-term.

But for the landlords who have kept their buildings up to code and do file for the rent increases, are virtually guaranteed double-digit percent rent hikes over a two year period – an amount that far outpaces the rent hikes granted landlords of rent stabilized tenants in the city. The rent-stabilized rent hikes are determined by the city's Rent Guidelines Board whose members are appointed by the mayor.

Last year for example, the RGB capped the rent increase on a 1-year lease at 1 percent. At the same time, Levy was socked with a 7.5 percent rent hike for her Ninth Street apartment.

In 1973, Levy was paying $208.10 a month in rent. Today, she's paying $2,107 – a 1,000 percent increase.

Over this same period, if she was paying the increases granted by the RGB for rent stabilized tenants — not including extra rent increases for capital improvements her landlord might have made— her rent would be $1,194. That's $900 less than what she's paying now.

Beyond the maximum collectible rent, rent-controlled tenants can be hit with fuel-cost pass-alongs and charged extra if labor costs rise.

Levy doesn't blame her landlord for her high rent.

"He only does what he's allowed to do," she says. "And I am obligated to pay it."

New math proposed

Upper West Side Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal, who grew up in a rent-controlled apartment, wants to drive a stake through the heart of the maximum base rent/maximum collectible rent mumbo-jumbo.

"The current 7.5 percent is ridiculous," Rosenthal says. "I doubt there is anyone in DHCR who even understands the formula. It does not reflect the situation today."

Rosenthal has proposed a bill that would require landlords to raise year-to-year rents by either 7.5 percent or the average of the previous five years of rent increases granted by the RGB — whichever is less.

So for example, if Rosenthal's proposal had been in effect last year, Levy's rent would have gone up 3 percent instead of 7.5 percent. Over the past five years, the average RGB increase for one-year leases has been 2.65 percent. Over this same stretch, Levy's average increase has been 4.2 percent. Rosenthal's bill would essentially slow down the express train of rising rent control rents.

"The goal is to get the rent increases for rent-controlled apartments to a normal level," she says. "If we fix the formula, that would mean a lot for [rent-controlled tenants]. It's not like a long-term impact on the landlord's income because people are not going to live there another 30 years."

Rosenthal is also concerned about the harassment of rent-controlled tenants at the hands of landlords who view them as human impediments to them making a lot more money.

"In one case, the landlord went into the person's apartment and threw all her stuff around. So now she's very scared. This is a very bad landlord," Rosenthal says. "I know other tenants who are being harassed. They come here and we do battle with their landlords."

The political landscape

Besides the Rosenthal bill, tenant and affordable housing advocates have a full menu of changes they want to see implemented this spring as part of the renewing the rent laws.

The boldface items include a proposal to scrap the provision that removes from rent guidelines apartments that rent for $2,500 or more. They want to make temporary the charges tenants pay for major capital improvements. And they want to take away the right of landlords to bump up the rent for an apartment 20 percent after a rent-stabilized tenant moves out.

The activists believe they are waging their battle in an improved political climate relative to years past.

Sidelined by corruption charges, former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver is no longer one of the "three men in the room." He's been replaced by Bronx Democrat Carl Heastie who has said strengthening rent laws will be his top priority once the state budget is put to bed.

Rosenthal says she has already spoken to Heastie about her bill and he appears to be on board.

McKee believes Heastie will be a more useful ally in the Democratically-controlled state Assembly than Silver was.

"What could we expect from Silver except another half-assed attempt to get tenant reform," says McKee. "Heastie has to prove himself, not so much to us, but to the members who elected him. And if enough of them are saying [we need stronger rent laws] there will be a lot of pressure on him to deliver."

As for the two other men in the room, the activists expect opposition from Republican state Senate Leader Dean Skelos and are wary of Gov. Andrew Cuomo whose campaigns have raked in millions from the real estate industry.

But the advocates have also picked up an important ally in the big city: Mayor Bill de Blasio, who has set a goal of preserving and/or building 200,000 units of affordable housing.

"We are cautiously optimistic because we have a mayor who is a strong advocate for affordable housing," says Delsenia Glover, an organizer with the group Tenants & Neighbors and the campaign manager for The Alliance for Tenant Power.

"Two days ago, he (de Blasio) called for the repeal of vacancy deregulation, which is at the top of our agenda," Glover adds. "This is a huge deal because over the 12 years of the mayor we had before him (Michael Bloomberg), such a thing was unimaginable."

De Blasio's office didn't respond to inquiries as to the mayor's plans or concerns about the high rents some rent-controlled tenants are paying.

Landlords want it gone

Frank Ricci, spokesman for the Rent Stabilization Association, the landlord lobby group, thinks the state DHCR is expending more money and resources on the shrinking universe of rent-controlled tenants than its worth. He suggests rent control be done away with, and the 27,000 tenants left in the program folded into rent stabilization.

"I don't think rent-control tenants can expect to have the best of all worlds – smaller rent increases, plus guarantees (to their apartment)," Ricci says.

"If an owner wants to occupy an apartment for himself or his family, it's impossible for him or her to get the apartment back. It's easier under rent stabilization," Ricci adds.

He notes that unlike rent stabilized tenants who pay "retroactively" for capital improvements, rent control tenants are only charged prospectively.
"There's a lot of little things, but they add up to big things for owners," he says. "If they want to fold it all into rent stabilization that would be fine."

The rent-controlled tenants and their advocates aren't biting.

Glover reiterated that the goal of her coalition this spring is to preserve rent control and bring down the rents.

Levy, the Ninth Street tenant, says she's a rent control lifer.

"I would never give up the protections of rent control because come Jan 1st, I know I have a place to live and my preferential rent is not going to disappear," Levy says. "And hopefully I'll have heat at night."

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  • ihateloggingin

    Levy should have bought 42 years ago when she moved in. Stop complaining and move to somewhere cheaper.

    • Colleen Lidz

      Nice assumption that Levy had the funds to be able to purchase 42 years ago. Her wage was probably not where it is today, and has continued to rent because of that. You cant just tell someone to pickup, relocate and move someplace cheaper. Levy has a right to stay and has a right to her home.

      • Mullbry

        There has to be some compromise. Not all landlords are Donald Trump. As taxes, cost of living and expenses pile up, they end up carrying people like this for free. Granted, I just read the headline and looked at her crazy eyes, but it still holds true.

        • cityslicker13

          She has nice hair.

          • Helen Murphy

            I hope she wins her case ill pray for her I don’t believe but ill pray any way.

        • JEng

          a lot of people are wack looking because life was harsher for them than some narcissist who always saved the best for themselves – I’m not afraid of her visual. There are bad tenants who are three sided swords as my mother described them today and there is absolutely nothing you can do about them based on the current legislation which govt representatives promise to make even worse.

      • ManhattanWriter

        No, actually she doesn’t have the “right”. Manhattan apartments are not birthrights. As long as you’re renting, you’re living in someone ELSE’S home. At some point, people do need to look ahead to the future and understand that rents are only going to go up. She could have left Manhattan in the ’80s and bought a similar apartment in Cobble Hill for the absurdly low price of $15,000. Or Washington Heights. Or Inwood. Apartments were costing less than many new cars back then.

        • sallydunford

          what nonsense — of course its not a birthright — no civil rights are birthrights – that matters not one iota.

          She has the right because NY says she does. And multi-unit buildings are NOT someone’s home – they’re an investment.

          And while we’re at it – who are you to be this judgmental about a situation when you know nothing about the details of this person’s right —

          I guess its your birthright

          • native new yorker

            A multi-unit building may not be the owner’s ‘home’, but is their private property.

          • sallydunford

            Property that they bought as an investment knowing that these programs were in place. No one held a gun to their head.

            Since you buy a property “warts and all” they presumably know that the existing leases are contracts that they are required to honor.

            The tenant entered into the contract also knowing what the terms were. Why should they be expected to do anything other than honoring their side of the contract? Obviously the tenant has including the provision that has raised her rent every year.

            And if she’s kept her side of the contract why should the owner expect anything else.

          • JEng

            not according to city government – these buildings are prey – why else are we taxed at 190k per year on a ten unit building in Little Italy?

          • Helen Murphy

            some g d nerve we all have a right to a nice and injoyable home what are u a republican???

          • jjlnyc

            you are absolutely correct – we all have a right to a nice enjoyable home. But that right doesnt necessarily mean a nice enjoyable home anywhere we want it

          • Helen Murphy

            WHY NOT

          • jjlnyc

            Because there IS no right to a home ANYWHERE you want one.

          • JEng

            our rent controlled tenants have much nicer homes – houses, battery park city condo, etc. when was the last time they went out of pocket and HOSTED anyone?

            Can I come over and spend the night in battery park city? or maybe I can have a sleepover with SADORAPE Park Police in Blakeslee Pennsylvania so I can get to the shooting range first thing in the morning instead of riding the MEARS bus back and forth to Manhattan.

        • Helen Murphy

          I live in manhattan and if any body ever tried to push me out ide fight them tooth and nail

          • Naqkch

            you’ll be gone soon anyway, old bag.

          • Fordham03

            Wow. That’s disrespectful. How would you like that comment coming your way? She has lived there for more than 20 years, is a senior, and can live there for the rest of her life as long as she pays the rent and does nothing illegal. When she quits working, her income will decrease and she will become eligible for Scrie, the program that keeps seniors from becoming homeless in New York State. Shame on you. You will get old, too and your attitude about things will change, believe me.

          • Helen Murphy

            FORDHAM03 DONT WORRY THE LIKES OF THAT DOT UPSET ME I TAKE IT FROM WHERE IT IS COMING FROM HAVE A GREAT NIGHT OK

          • Helen Murphy

            U TOOO

        • JEng

          if she moves to deadend Queens, the rent will be lower and she can take quiet strolls all day and night with little fear of assault and the air would be less restaurant-y.

      • ialsohateloggingin

        Why does she have a right to her home that i do not (as a market tenant)?

        • Interested tenant

          Why are you not demanding that market rate tenants be subject to rent regulation as well instead of blaming rent regulated tenants for the protections they have fought so hard to keep and protect. Up until the mid-nineties, rent regulation was the norm in this City (for decades) and “free market” tenancies the exception.

          • Colleen Lidz

            Thank you. Market rate is a joke and price gouges everyone. We should be fighting for stronger rent regulation for EVERYONE.

          • Helen Murphy

            and rent stabilization too !!!!

          • JEng

            haha including the mayor’s income property?

            Omg that would ruin the whole plan – overregulate and overcharge the small owners so the properties change hands and then voila suddenly the politicians will realize how biased and inappropriate the rent regs are.

          • Colleen Lidz

            Theres a great exhibition up right now that you might be interested in:
            http://interferencearchive.org/we-wont-move-tenants-organize-in-new-york-city/

          • Helen Murphy

            ill check it out for my friend thanks again

          • ialsohateloggingin

            How would my landlord afford to keep my building in the nice state it’s in if he didn’t receive my higher rent? I am not living in NY at the expense of someone who invested in a piece of property. Why should anyone have a protected rent?

          • Helen Murphy

            excuse us all for living!!!!!

          • JEng

            we would probably feel better about the minority of 8 million new yorkers getting this special treatment if this was income and asset based.

        • Helen Murphy

          why shouldn’t she????

      • Helen Murphy

        I agree whole heartly colleen lidz he was hitting below the belt hes probably a land lord

      • jjlnyc

        “Her home”? If she rents, it is the owners building, not hers (Though many might make a case that having a rent-controlled apt in NYC is BETTER than owning… 😉

    • Andrew Porter

      Why do you assume her building was a co-op? When she moved in, there were almost no co-ops, certainly no condos, in all of NYC.

      • Helen Murphy

        HE MUST BE A LAND LORD

        • Andrew Porter

          Huh? Me? Nope, I’m on SCRIE.

          • Helen Murphy

            GOOD YOU GET A BREAK TOO JUST LIKE ME

          • Helen Murphy

            NO I DONT MEAN U ANDREW PORTER YOU AND I ARE IN THE SAME BOAT HERE

    • JEng

      Are you working for tenant advocates? No landlord would say that to someone genuinely needy.

      there are vulnerable people who need protecting but there should not be succession rights and it should be income based and assets-based and frankly, the government needs to allow private owners the same rights of background information as NYCHA

      I met a very sympathetic person who must have been rent regulated on UWS albeit on a private entity’s dime – I think that part is a problem because it is a burden placed inequitably and it is not appropriate to say well sell your building to me if you don’t like it because at its heart, the rent regulation’s ongoing changes are discriminating against a private set of property owners and there is no justification for their particular inequitable shouldering of the burden – it’s not like we are a bunch of pedophiles or gangsters who deserve to be charged more for the same investment we make in our asset. It’s ONLY us who are being charged and legislated against – nobody else. It’s not a vacate order bill against NYCHA, you know. And real estate taxes get wiped for nonprofits who took those buildings away from the owners who couldn’t afford them.

      And it IS a situation that encourages sadism.

      There are multiple sets of rules and charges in NY for different types of owners.

      • sallydunford

        No one held a gun to an owner’s head and said “buy this building”

        – If an owner bought a building without understanding that this system has been in place for 60 years, would effect this bottom line

        – why should he be rewarded at the expense of the tenants?

        • JEng

          My father told my mother without being aware of the background of the people on the rent roll that we should never be uptight about rent regulated and see it as an act of charity that would be offset by renting out the commercial space. But what turned out to happen was that the rent roll includes people who don’t need the premises and the family of my father’s murderers. And it is not income based, it is not based on any emergency need – don’t get me started on the fact that the availability of affordable rents exist in parts of the five boroughs of no interest to gentrification, the succession rights are not based on need and the tenants do not have to provide their id nor do their new occupants. It’s unbelievable how biased the laws are for private owners of subsidized housing while government run housing is actually more exacting and probably collects higher rent. There is so much inappropriateness in the shilling for prolonging the rent regulations and even expanding the onus on private owners which are not being proposed against the government themselves.

          • sallydunford

            Rent stabilization law was never meant to be an act of charity. It was meant to stop price gouging. And sucession rights are not based on need for the same reason. Nor is Rent stabilization, the same as subsidized housing. Subsidized housing is based on need.

            They were meant to keep everyday people from being gouged. As to what happened with your father, I am truly sorry — but I doubt very much that succession rights or Rent Stabilization had anything to do with it. I’m sure you wanted the family of your father’s killer out. I would have, but blaming a law that effects so many more good working class and middle class families than bad, how would that of changed anything

            As to inappropriateness – what do you mean by that ? — ther Rent Stabilization Association spends millions to do away with the laws –they run ads and lobby and donate to politicians I don’t like it and think that their arguments are hogwash — but they are not inappropriate.

            Tenant’s rights organizations use the only power they have -that of reminding the few that the many still have the power of the vote.

            And there are still more votes than people with money, than God

          • JEng

            so why isn’t in line with income based NYCHA? And how do you use the anti gouging defense when they do not pay their fair share of expenses and they are sometimes more well off than NYCHA. It’s not appropriate and I see the same blind eyes in the legislation proposed for rent control of stores where there are stores on the same block by the same owner being charged the same rent for stores differing in size e.g. 1700 and 500 square feet stores are charged the same rent where the smaller store is at a disadvantage. There’s something very biased about the proposed legislation and it may be connected to the SPURA-type freezing of Chinatown and Little Italy because obviously the spaces uptown are not going to get hurt by the proposed law because their markets rent are very high whereas my neighborhood there is a contradiction in actual rent and media-promoted rent e.g. Ludlow Street. It’s all bogus.

            And the fact that the lucrative and successful Korean merchants association are on the side of the law while attacking owners as greedy does not mention that these leases are sold for six figure if not seven figure key money. So what is the sublease rule in this proposed law? I think that this law is all about media promotion and sound bites but how do you address the fact that there are at least three pharmacies on so many blocks in Chinatown? Are you only going to regulate the stores with over six thousand regular prescriptions and let the nonperformers close up? Is there a database where the city council can see how many prescriptions each pharmacy enjoys? What about the empty looking senior day care centers? How do they benefit from this rent control of retail rule? Do the upper story ones get protected? Are they judged on actual daily traffic or identified only by how many Medicare recipients use them to order medical supplies from allied pharmacies like walkers and bathtub chairs and such.

          • sallydunford

            You obviously have absolutely NO understanding of Rent Stabilization law.
            1. It covers only ONLY residential buildings built before 1974 with more than 4 units. It has absolutely NOTHING to do with commercial spaces. NOTHING.

            2. IT has a sunset clause. It ends by statue when the Residential Vacancy rate (which is calculated by City) reaches 5%. That has never happened.

            3. It says that lease renewals are automatic but rents rise at a percentage based on costs as presented by owners PLUS a profit margin of about 7%.

            4. Owners of buildings that have expenses exceeding their rents may apply for an additional rent increase by demonstrating the facts to the State.

            5. When apartments are vacated there are a series of additional rent increases that an owner can legally add.

            6. Tenants who are problem tenants can still be evicted if they have broken provisions of their leases other than financial ones via a Holdover Action.

            7. The NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development has a series of programs through their Neighborhood Preservation offices (one in each borough) have programs to provide assistance to owners experiencing a wide number of problems.

            I strongly advise you to explore the HPD website which answers many of these questions, and to read the NYS Office of Housing and Community Renewal web-site, in particular the series of Fact Sheets there covering residential law.

            Clearly the problems you’re seeing are very different that what I see here in the north Bronx, but it seems to me that you should actually know what the perimeters you have to work within before you try to pull them down.

          • JEng

            I am referring to the biased coverage and the inappropriateness of the application and extension of the rent regulations on a specific type of buidlings that affect a MINORITY of renters in New York City and it is possibly because some of those buildings are in coveted neighborhoods so those owners continue to be overtaxed and overfined and overpenalized so they don’t participate in any kind of harvesting or profitting from rent regulated buildings that they have held for so long through all the lean years.

          • Helen Murphy

            NOT TRUE ALL IS BEING PRICED OUT ALL MY FRIENDS ARE AND THEY ARE PRETTY UP SET OVER IT TOO.

          • JEng

            Its coming out of our pockets even though we dont benefit from the building and we can’t afford to live in this building because of real estate taxes nevermind the presence of my father’s murder (one of them) and his family! Is my mother supposed to offer you a three hundred dollar apartment when real estate taxes are 170k a year?

            You’re upset about it? Try having to pay for these 7 regulated apartments out of your own savings, social security and low salary as an employee elsewhere and then even trying to find side jobs like moving for street vendors but not being able to charge a friend? The whole thing is inappropriate – we SHOULD not be paying for other people to ENJOY Manhattan at below cost prices. It’s disgusting and those politicians and their six figure incomes KNOW it.

          • Helen Murphy

            JENG YA SO CLOSED MINDED

          • JEng

            we’re of a minority class that are the only ones subjected to what the city and state refuse to support themselves – income unverified therefore unproven as deserving subsidization and that subsidization is out of private pockets with no corresponding tax alleviation like the developers get with J51 and we are definitely targeted by the NYC government including Leticia James’ office who laughed at us when we asked for help and she sends out all this self praising stuff in her email blasts about how concerned she is for the citizens and how she serves them.

          • Helen Murphy

            ALL MY FRIENDS ARE BEING PRICED OUT OF THEIR APTS NOT FAIR AT ALL WHY? SO ALL LAND LORDS CAN BE OUT ON THE GOLF GROUNDS???

          • JEng

            what? My mother feels guilty when she buys something at Paris Baguette.

          • JEng

            I think Bronx involves some two-sided torture that is made much of but there’s no Margaret Chin or AAFE up there – what is happening downtown is different and it uses torturing the Bronx.

          • JEng

            how do you successfully price gouge if you overprice and your unit goes vacant? i see plenty of units for rent signs on those luxury buidlings in hells kitchen.

            and I dont think it is fair that most people have these commutes while their coworkers get Manhattan addresses at low rents like $234 for a one bedroom – its not a meritocracy.

          • Helen Murphy

            SO WHAT!!!!

          • JEng

            are you carrying the burdens of total strangers in YOUR personal life? Is your entire family traumatized by having to bail you out because the LAW demands that you do so? were you a goblin in a past life and owe these people some kind of karmic indentured servitude?

          • Helen Murphy

            I WAS NEVER BAILED OUT HERE SOME NERVE JENG STOP THE CRAP ALREADY

          • JEng

            are you a rent controlled tenant like Cindy Lauper? do you give income verification so that you pay 30 percent of your income and the property owner isn’t paying more to support you on their property? Have you applied for Section 8 or NYCHA because this is a societal issue that everyone should be paying for and not a personal stranger’s burden?

          • Helen Murphy

            LAWS HAVE TO BE CHANGD SO NO ONE IS FORCED OUT OF THEIR DWELLING!!!!

          • JEng

            how about relocated to around the corner or to a nice elevator building in queens – that might be nice for you

          • Helen Murphy

            I LIVE IN A BEAUTIFUL BLDG IM TALKING ABOUT MY FRIENDS HERE NOT ME

          • JEng

            hey everyone else – the majority of the people in the city – live where they can afford to, they pull their own weight and they commute.

            why are you making out that out of friendship cue the bluebirds and the harp music, you have carte blanche to abuse someone’s reputation and not even be sympathetic nevermind grateful that they are personally carrying your friends. Would you personally house your friends at your own expense for the rest of their lives and then their kids can also succeed to the same benefits and then their grandkids? Even though they own houses in Flushing, run restaurants like King’s Chinese in Freehold and Sentosa in Flushing, own in Blakeslee Pennyslvania or 50 Bayrard Street or Battery Park City or Dyker Heights.

            Of course not, Helen Murphy, they’re your friends and given your personal animosity against me and my position, you should be so lucky as myself and house YOUR father’s murderer and his family. It’s a wonderful character builder for the widow, YOUR mother – to take out their garbage and have to be scolded when the HK tailors above them who gave this nice triad family the key to their apartment to hold so my mother had to have contact with them – floods them on at least an annual basis at great expense to my mother.

        • Helen Murphy

          RIGHT ON SALLY DUNFORD RIGHT ON !!!!

    • Fordham03

      She’s rent controlled; no opportunity to buy unless it turns Co-op. As for moving somewhere cheaper, obviously, you aren’t familiar with NY rents; there is nowhere for her to go. That’s the whole point of the article. With 7.5% increase plus fuel every year, seniors will either die or become homeless with that formula. It’s time to change it. In addition, when an owner renovates, he can charge rent control tenants a 15% increase which is permanent, not when the repairs are done. System may have worked years ago, but it heavily stacked in favor of landlords now.

      • ihateloggingin

        Renters have first dibs to buy when a building goes coop or condo at a massive discount.
        She gambled assuming her rent would always be low because the city bends over backwards to reward people for wallowing in their lives. But landlords get hit with annual double digit raises in water, sewer, taxes, electric, gas, and on and on. How does that gap get filled?

        • Helen Murphy

          ya a real creep!!!!

        • viva_yo

          When the landlord tried to make our building coop (a tenement built in 1907) he wanted $125,000 for me to buy my apartment and that was over 20 years ago. That’s hardly a “massive discount”. There was no way I could afford that much. There were no takers for this overpriced coop. This is a tenement, after all, built for working people, a tub-in-kitch type of place with no amenities and apartments the size of matchboxes. Speculators over the years hiked up the price of the building far beyond it’s real worth

          • jjlnyc

            “real worth”?? As determined by whom or what? A thing is wroth what someone is willing to pay for it

          • viva_yo

            Well, not one person was willing to pay that exorbitant price.

        • viva_yo

          “Double-digit raises in water, sewer, taxes, electric and gas” is pure fiction. I suppose that’s why landlords often let both commercial and residential units go empty, sometimes for years, because they’re so “hard up for cash”.

          And yet will all this landlord “poverty”, the real estate industry is the single biggest contributor to ALL major political candidates; they contribute more to NYC and NYS politicians than even Wall St.

          p.s. FYI, rent controlled units have to pay extra for fuel and we get bi-yearly adjustments in fuel costs, per room, in addition to rent increases.

          • Interested tenant

            HCR issued its preliminary report today determining that rents for rent controlled tenants will increase by 9.6% in January.

          • viva_yo

            Thanks for the info.

          • JEng

            none of the rich owners are rent regulated though – rent regulated is some kind of torture fest on its owners like a dungeon or a sadistic crossfit loft run by errant Catholic priests and their naked cowboys

      • ManhattanWriter

        Very little sympathy here. What do other people do (those not protected by rent control or stabilization) when their rents exceed affordability? There is always someplace cheaper to go.

        • sallydunford

          The big difference is that those other people knew what the rules were when they moved in. This lady moved in under one set of rules only to have them change. She has absolutely kept her share of the deal.

          • ManhattanWriter

            She had plenty of time to change with the times.

          • Helen Murphy

            ARE U A LAND LORD???

          • JEng

            they changed the rules on the landlords against the owner’s advantage – not the tenants

        • Helen Murphy

          WHERE???? SOME NERVE!!!!

        • Helen Murphy

          NO THERE AINT I BEG TO DIFFER HERE

      • JEng

        they can shove you out once the place goes co-op on the financially sabotaged previous owner – then you become the beleagured owner suffering bad neighbors and circumstances

    • sallydunford

      when she moved in 42 years ago the building was a rental. If it was a co-op more than the 50% of apartments would be co-op now

      • Helen Murphy

        A SENIOR CANNOT BE PUT OUT IN THE STREET SORRY TO BUST YA BUBBLE HERE!!!!

    • Helen Murphy

      u got some nerve!!! where can she move to that’s a cheap shot and you know it too

      • JEng

        queens – move here

        • Helen Murphy

          SOME NERVE HERE

          • JEng

            hey candidate Don B Lee not only has a claim on a rent controlled apartment but also owns a house in Dyker Heights and now claims to live in Battery Park City.

            people better off than the building owners have all kinds of assets while maintaining rent controlled apartments. he spoke to the Chinese newspaper about how concerned he is about affordable housing at the mayor’s inauguration – I’ve seen them together on Mott Street back in the day.

            but when we emailed him about a heating complaint last winter – IGNORED us – and the nice Italian Okinawan tenant downstairs who was being affected was of NO concern to him.

            this year he is ignoring us about dehoarding his apartment over a bug complaint from her.

            And she’s refusing to renew her lease and doesn’t think she’ll stay another year.

    • JEng

      Helene Hanff reportedly had food budget problems at the end of her life. I feel bad about that. I enjoyed her book (the bookstore owner or his son was a codebreaker) but I never thought about her in the same city. I sent Quentin Crisp puzzle books and called him – he answered with a helloooo? and he had some young guy looking in on him – Helene had no such rainbow support.

  • Andrew Porter

    You forgot to mention the added charges for fuel used to heat the building and provide hot water. This is surcharged on the rent. There is, however, SCRIE—Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption. This is a NYC Finance Dept administered program whereby seniors over 62 who have incomes below $50,000 ($29,000 until a few months ago) and rent that takes a certain large percentage of their income, get their rents frozen. Call 3-1-1 for more information.

    • JEng

      that income hike is pretty gnarly because we don’t make any salary from our buidling and my brother doesn’t even make 29k so that thing was probably hiked because otherwise the program would die from nonparticipation and the whole emergency housing thing would lose one more siren.

    • Helen Murphy

      excuse me for seniors for living !!!!! my friend makes too much for scrie she is paying a high rent and shes there 40 years or longer.

      • Andrew Porter

        She should call 3-1-1, and ask them. Hey, I’m 69 and on SCRIE myself. (And I know when and where to use upper and lower case, and exclamation points…)

        • Barbara Henning

          About Scrie — what seems utterly unfair is when I am living in a building paying the same rent as rent stabilized apartments (my apartment was de-regulated before I moved in) and I make less than 50,000 and I can’t apply for SCRIE, but my neighbor can. That seems like discrimination. The landlords should not be allowed to de-regulate apartments if they can’t really rent for the market value.

          • JEng

            you mean if they get a preferential rent they should return to regulation? So no leniency on any market tenants to maintain stability and just to be accommodating or the city council will find a new way to hurt such landlords?

            I just found out our oldest market tenant is part Japanese because another neighbor probably wants us to start a fight or something but she’s well-behaved, responds to access requests, lets us know when there is a notice on the door and is super clean and we haven’t raised her rent since she moved in about three years ago and iirc she is lower than the last highest (deregulated I hope) rent but we wanted to use a broker because craigslist was no longer a good place to find tenants directly and when you use a broker, they charge a tenant a fee so that means the asking rent is below market – but you get peace of mind because if they are willing to go through a broker, they tend to be more serious and more law abiding.

            I wouldn’t want to see reregulation of any market unit but the Rent Act of 2015 basically keeps new apartments in stabilization so we will never see new market apartments in the same building as regulated for a loong time and given that developers could easily seed targeted buildings with tenants holding those Rent Act of 2015 leases for any vacancies you may have and those tenants can make it really ugly for an owner, there’s actually no upside in losing old tenants and having vacancies – because nothing is free – if you have a tenement, that new lease for market rent on a stabilized lease – that could end up being something because we had a loosened connection on the radiator that would require some muscle and a special wrench in a market unit discovered post moveout and THEN it showed up in the Hong Kong tailor this week so you know ….

            I know that some owners warehouse vacant units not out of greed but … PTSD – haha – seriously – a grown man told my mother – NEVER AGAIN – it’s too abusive.

            What we really need is a serious reduction in real estate taxes so we can afford to run this regulated building. We do have one apartment that hasn’t paid rent in 14 years and whose business is so good that his brother now owns a condo across the street in hester gardens. and we need two units to dehoard – so that’s all we need to solve our problems. It’s unlikely anyone will rent our store.

      • JEng

        She’s earning more than 55k so that’s more than half the people in NYC.

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  • native new yorker

    I feel bad for these older people. But I’m a 1-family homeowner and my NYC water rate (up 284% since 1995) and NYC property tax go up every year and no one subsidizes me or any other homeowner.

    • sallydunford

      There are programs that exist for elderly and/or disabled homeowners also. And assuming you get a deduction on your income taxes, yes??

      That’s just a subsidy by another name, that you get (and should). A renter cannot deduct anything of their housing costs.

      • Helen Murphy

        MY FRIENDS MAKE TOO MUCH MONEY AND THEIR RETIREMENT CHECKS GO MOSTLY ON RENT NOT FAIR AT ALL.

    • JEng

      yep we pay so much in heat and hot water and con ed bills and water bills while regulated tenants are not income based nor need based which means they should not benefit from any housing “emergency” and they are allowed to have six figures jobs, own real estate, run cash rich restaurants, etc. This is THE one housing law that is completely not a meritocracy and the market tenants and commercial tenants pay for it because carrying costs are so high with real estate taxes without transparency and a water bill that can go from 5k to 9k. It’s ridiculous. And working class people are being told blame the greedy slumlord as if the other 8 million people in NYC are supposed to BOND with these ongoing beneficiaries of an outdated and inappropriate law and politicians especially in Albany are browbeaten by city press as in cahoots with greedy developers against the poor tenants when some of those poor tenants are richer than the politicians – its not just cyndi lauper or former turkish aristocrats or mia farrow or faye dunaway – it’s a lot of people who benefit who dont’ even use their apartments and use this political climate and these hamstringing regulations against the landlord.

      Succession rights at least should be cancelled. And someone should investigate the supporters of these laws to see how out of pocket they are in their personal lives the way they cause the private building owners to be out of pocket to support people who SRO, who don’t live there, who are rich and in our case, murdered the landlord and then gave the rent controlled apartment as his post prison nondeportation address to his FBI handlers because now he’s an informant who is “a big help” to the Feds.

      I don’t believe now at all about Tale of Two Cities and Black Lives Matter because I personally experienced deaf ears, blind eyes, cold shoulders – it’s all a game to screw up the neighborhoods and for private ownership – just wait – homeowners are in the bullseye as well because some properties are zoned for home not commercial usage so they are going to be smeared just like those greedy slumlords who char for the murderers’ family members and get screamed at for wanting access into units and GET HIT – its lovely – I wish it on ALL the tenant advocates who are NOT builing Chung Paks for the elderly or letting them get the poor door units first and just want power and buildings for their nonprofit cronies who get their taxes and fines wiped.

    • Helen Murphy

      YA IN THE WRONG BUSINESS!!!!

    • viva_yo

      The private homeowner renting out a unit isn’t the problem. Those rents there are not regulated and despite that, are usually much less than the regulated units in apartment buildings. (A building has to have 6 or more rental units to be regulated and owner-occupants of those buildings have a lot of leeway in whom they rent to.) The problem is that there are not many of those types of apartments in NYC and most renters are left with corporate landlords.

      • JEng

        is corporate necessarily bad? it would be impersonal, right?

        • viva_yo

          My landlords (Ramer and Saperstein, google them) are a corporation and own many, many buildings and they are two of the worst landlords in NYC.

          • JEng

            the problem then would be that there would be many small fry complainants who just can’t be bothered to make it their full time job plus overtime to see how these landlords behave across the board. CAAAV made Adele Sarno their business so you mihgt want to contact them and AAFE _ I think they are more interested in tenant side regardless of race.

    • JEng

      It’s very scary for elderly who own their own homes because they don’t like to ask anyone for help and sometimes go without heat that they can’t afford to fix – you really need to have family cooperation otherwise you are better off in rent regulated but I really think elderly need elevator buildings – those stairs even a few steps are too risky for old people. ELEVATORS and barrier free showers.

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  • Helen Murphy

    what about the rent stabilization folks they matter too, they are the back bone of n y c remember that. if they are all forced out we will become another welfare state here in n y c. As I read I only hear about the rent controlled folks well what about rent stabilization folks they are us citizens and they pay taxes and vote like the next guy. rules have to be more stronger for those rentstabazation apt dwellers all should call their congressman and congresswoman and flood their phone about this topic im neither but I feel for the next guy because my friends live in rent stabilization apts. I do oh feel so sorry for them all they are all being pushed out of their apts. But guess what if ya a senior ya cannot be pushed out remember that folks ok and good luck out there. signed concerned and caring for the next guy. unity is strenegth remember that why there should be such an out cry over this.

    • jjlnyc

      Because nearly HALF of all NYC apts are rent stabilized, there is a shortage of free market apts. Rents are sky-high for free market apts due in large part to this shortage. Price ceilings cause shortages, which in turn cause higher prices. (supply-demand, ya know?)
      People who pay way under market for their precious RS apt are causing EVERYONE ELSE to pay higher rents. Be cautious about drawing attention to yourself if you are in a RS apt. You arent doing anyone any favors except yourself, and sooner or later the rest of the population will say “ENOUGH!”

    • JEng

      rent regs promote venality and dishonesty and destruction of property – we have never had to nor do our economy home neighbors had to do the repairs that occur in regulated units – that coupling didn’t unscrew to cause a leak by itself.

  • Naqkch

    The landlords are the victims of these idiotic laws too.

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  • jjlnyc

    Someone’s rent went from approx $200 to approx $2000 in 42 years?
    Soooooo……? LOTS of things have increased 10-fold or more in 42 years
    Gallon of gas
    Loaf of bread
    Bottle of Coca Cola
    Gallon of milk
    Movie ticket
    Pair of nice shoes
    New car
    College tuition
    Glass of beer in a bar
    Dow Jones Industrial Average
    Some things go up a little, some go up more than a little. EVERYone has to deal with it
    Life goes on.
    Olivia and Edgar are retired and “have to” pay $2000 for a @BR 2 Bath apt on West End Ave? Keeping said apartment off the market from someone who works for a living and would love to pay anything CLOSE to that? Heck, I hear rents are cheap in Poughkeepsie, and since they are retired, commuting isn’t an issue. Forgive me if I don’t cry in my $7 beer

  • jjlnyc

    People who are lucky enough to have their rent subsidized, whether by rent stab., rent control, public housing, or any other government program, would do well to remember:
    https://pbs.twimg.com/media/B8oxgZkCcAAGIAL.jpg

    • Helen Murphy

      THEY WORKED FOR IT

      • jjlnyc

        No they didn’t – there is no “work” involved in having your rent subsidized. The only work done is by the people who subsidize it

      • jjlnyc

        Really? Just what “work” did they do??

  • Be the one

    Really fantastic article and i liked it !!! thanks for shaing!

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