Tenants Fight Eviction on Bergen Street

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A Prospect Heights block party yesterday had homemade food, loud music and a louder message: Good neighbors do not evict neighbors. The Fifth Avenue Committee-organized event was aimed at drawing attention to the plight of four rent-stabilized tenants facing eviction from 533 Bergen Street, and it highlighted bubbling tensions over affordable housing, gentrification and Atlantic Yards. Councilmember Letitia James, State Senator Velmanette Montgomery and various activists spoke in support of the longtime tenants, who are fighting lawsuits from 533 Bergen’s new owners. The two couples that bought the building last year—Dan Bailey and Felicity Loughrey, along with Deanne Cheuk and Andre Wiesmayr—claim they want to evict the tenants because Bailey and Loughrey intend to construct a triplex for themselves out of the units. Under current laws, landlords of rent-stabilized buildings are allowed to evict tenants if they plan to live in the units themselves.

Most speakers called for reforming rent-regulation laws and maintaining affordability for low-income residents. Rents in Prospect Heights are increasingly beyond the means of most working-class families, said Councilmember James. We must preserve this community’s diversity. James and Senator Montgomery both characterized the push to evict 533 Bergen’s tenants as secondary displacement from Atlantic Yards. Brent Meltzer, a lawyer with South Brooklyn Legal Services who is representing one of the tenants, noted that if the landlords succeed with the evictions, 3,500 square feet that four families live in will be given over to just one family. The most basic articulation of the situation, however, came from Rosa Negron, one of 533 Bergen’s residents: How you going to evict people who’ve been living here all these years?

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  • Why are these private property owners who are seemingly playing by the rules being vilified because they want to occupy thier property? It isn’t relevant how much space they will take over. Occupying rental space forever isn’t a birthright.

  • agreed: fix the law if you want to change the rules, and help these people find a new place to live. I never had the luxury of rent stabilization when I rented… Why do these folks get something that others don’t?

  • What the hell does this have to do with AY?

  • Stop the presses!!! The horror!! The humanity!!

    An owner wants to occupy the building he or she owns!!!!

  • The sense of entitlement that is rampant throughout the city has no limits. Why are these people so special that they should prevent someone who has spent tons of hard earned money from using their own space exactly as they wish.

    Rent stabilized units are an incredible perk that most of us will never enjoy. Be happy you enjoyed it while it lasted and respect people’s rights to their own property!

  • I can’t wait to vote against Tish.

    Yep, its definitely the responsibility of these owners to subsidize the housing of these tenants.

    “You paid for the property but you’re not entitled to it because I’ve paid under market rent all these years.”

    wtf?

  • These people are doing nothing wrong. They bought the buildings; they plan to occupy them. Ummmmm, I don’t see the problem here, and I don’t see the reason for the protesting.

    “The sense of entitlement that is rampant throughout the city has no limits. Why are these people so special that they should prevent someone who has spent tons of hard earned money from using their own space exactly as they wish.”

    I agree!

  • I think the owners are within their right. The only time they are not (and this DOES happen) is when a landlord claims an apartment is for their occupancy–or that of a family member–and they manage to evict everyone. Then they either keep it empty or put a family member in as a place holder for a while. And it was all a plan to empty the building and take all the apartments off regulation. Then they flip it or fill it with new tenants at market rates. Technically legal but that’s kinda shady. But it sounds like these owners really plan to live there so I agree with you all that the tenants really don’t have a case–I guess they are hoping to shames the owners into letting them stay.

  • I think it’s amusing–and very telling–that only the tenants in this story are judged by these posters to have a sense of entitlement. What about the people who bought the building? They feel they’re “entitled” to evict people so that they can own a one-family home. Why didn’t they buy a one-family home if that was what they wanted?

  • Jimmy Legs

    there are probably more extreme examples of abuse, but it underlines the complications involved when somebody buys a building with tenants. the owner-occupancy allowance wasn’t intended to be used to empty out an entire building, but i doubt it’s specific or strong enough for the tenants to fight.

    something probably should be done to protect low-income tenants, but i doubt a capitalist system will provide it. i feel bad for long-time tenants when they say ‘i’ve lived here for 20 years …’ but in this society that doesn’t mean squat. when we leave the job of providing affordable housing to people like Ratner, it’s no wonder the poorest people in the city are sweating.

  • If Letitia James is so concerned about the welfare of these families, then perhaps she should rent them rooms in her brownstone.

    This “shame, shame, shame” tactic is so outdated and will definitely not work in this case.

  • tot he new owners next time buy a house that isn’t occupied with rent stabilized tenants that’s been living there forever..

    To the renters, buy your own damn house and you have nothing to worry about next time. Stop perpetuating a cycle of poverty….

    Maria

  • “I think it’s amusing–and very telling–that only the tenants in this story are judged by these posters to have a sense of entitlement. What about the people who bought the building? They feel they’re “entitled” to evict people so that they can own a one-family home. Why didn’t they buy a one-family home if that was what they wanted?”

    Actually, the purchase of the property does entitle these owners to use the building in whatever manner they see fit. They have spent substantial capital and likely incurred the risk of a large motgage to EARN that entitlement.

    What have the renters done to entitle them to dictate how much they pay for something they do not own? Lived there for next to nothing for years?

    I am currently a renter, but have aspirations to own in the near future. I hate to think that after scrimping and saving and workking so hard for years while paying market rent, someone could possible dictate how I can use my own property in order to beenfit someone else.

  • Couldn’t agree more with 10:09. Just because it is legal to evict the current residents doesn’t mean that it is moral or ethical. There are few cases in capitalism where one person’s consumption directly causes someone else’s suffering, but that is the case here.

    The new buyers could have found a single-family house, but they chose to throw their money around in a way that throws other people out of their longtime home.

    The sense of entitlement among many posters on this site is amazing. Leave it to those who can afford a whole brownstone (or even the big bucks to own an apartment in Brownstone Brooklyn) to rush to defend their rights to do anything with their money at any time. “I paid for it, now it’s mine.” Well it may be legal, but it’s also selfish and heartless.

  • Seems that the owners of this property and/or their attorneys are living it up at the top of this thread.

    They paid a greatly discounted price for this property based on the fact that tenants were in place, and in doing so, they gambled. Their bet pays off if the tenants don’t manage to prove that the owner-use claim is a pretext. But if the bet doesn’t pay off, it’s not “unfair” — it’s a risk they took on.

  • Guest at 10.09 and 10.32: so let me get this straight (according to your insights). These owners have paid for this building with their own money, and are following the spirit and letter of the law in this matter. However, according to you, they must further pass muster with your moral judgment.

    I commend to you the nation of Iran, where the Ayatollahs would second your sentiment.

  • 10:32 This says it all:

    “If Letitia James is so concerned about the welfare of these families, then perhaps she should rent them rooms in her brownstone.”

    If you are morally outraged by the concept of private property I suggest you offer housing to these tenants. Do you have any other personal property I can use? Maybe a car or some tools? I’ll be cooking dinner at your place tonight. Just because you paid for your kitchen doesn’t mean its yours.

  • What is unethical is for someone to believe they have an ownership interest in property when they do not. Depriving of that apartment does nothing. There are MILLIONS of available apartments in this country. This building was once a house. Some poor soul decided to convert it into apartments. Now someone wants to convert back into a house.

    These renters could have purchased property but did not. Tough luck.

    See, the real issue here that is heartless is the lack of respect for property rights. These people SUFFER because of a lack of affordable housing BECAUSE of oppressive zoning laws and rent control. If condescending posters like 10:32 just woke up and understood how things typically work, they’d realize this. Why in god’s name would ANYONE in the future convert a house to rental property, or even develop a rental building? The risks are so great.

    The poor are hurt by your idealism. We could have tons of housing all over this city, but people like you prevent that. You make it too risky for developers to create rental housing. You support restrictive zoning that makes it impossible to construct multifamily housing for poor people just like these protesting renters.

    In the end, you only have yourself to blame. Your inability to understand how society works has resulted in vast human suffering that scarcely exists elsewhere in the United States. Good work.

  • Please remember that these laws were created because of the abuses perpetrated by landlords when there was no regulation to protect tenants. And as they say the good suffer with the bad. But are these folks the good – when it comes to developers I would say the jury is still out. There doensn’t seem to be a method for the city to monitor whether the landlords live up to the terms and without that it seems to leave a large loophole which would allow abuse

  • This is definitely enough to make me vote againt Tish James in the future. She has done a lot of good, but singling out these property owners who are not doing anything wrong or illegal is beyond the pale and shows a lack of judgment. There are other avenues and venues in which Tish James could push the agenda of affordable housing and mixed socio-economic communities. To vilify these individual property owners is disgraceful. It is not the responsibility of an individual property owner to ensure there is subsidized housing for the community.

    lp

  • No, these laws were created firstly to control the cost of housing during WWII because the city was filled to the max with workers. They were then expanded in the 1970s because of the severe inflation – it was no different than other price controls implemented by Nixon.

    In case you haven’t noticed, apartment buildings USED to be nice. Landlords once provided great apartments and lots of them. Apartments didn’t become dumps until rent control, because it was simply not profitable to do any renovation or repairs.

    Now, it is far to risky in general to building rental housing.

    This issue is not about a loophole. The city realized the citizenry would up in arms if they couldn’t even control the rental apartments in their own homes. The property in question here IS A HOUSE! It was divided into apartments probably during the 1950s, and now someone wants to turn it back into a house. This is not abuse, and the law has always allowed this.

  • Obviously the owners got a much lower price on the buildign since it was rent stabilized. Multi-unit properties with rent stabilized are significantly cheaper than a 1 to 3 family of the same size.

    In the same light, this building most likely needs significant renovation to be converted.

    I feel it is the new owners right to take over the building for their personal use. However, I propose the law be amended. There should be a checks and balance clause. Maybe the new owners need to prove they are living in the building the way they stated within 3 years. Potentially add another clause that states they have to live in the building for a specific period of time like 5 years. Also, add a significant tax hit if they don’t meet these time requirements. This is what many of the city’s housing works programs require. This way it prevents someone from clearing a building out, rehabbing it in a year or two and turn around and flip it.

  • The people who bought this house are suckers and are in for a long hard battle. Anyone who knows anything about real estate in NYC knows not to get into this kind of situation. All the laws in NYC are pro-tenant and the eviction cases can go on for years. The buyers clearly had terrible advice from someone to have bought a house with four rent controlled tenants. I predict they go completely broke from legal fees. It doesn’t really matter who’s right and who’s wrong, the long and short of it is that it’s going to be a nightmare for the owners.

  • Is there a reason for the owner of a property like this one to be in effect subsidized by having a limited property tax assessment? Perhaps owners of small homes who benefit from that subsidy ought to incur some social obligations in turn.

  • I love how the entitled gentry on this site always manage to come up with comments like “buy your own damn house”, or “living there for next to nothing”, and my favorite, “these renters could have bought property, but did not, tough luck”. You have absolutely no clue about what living in poverty is like, and probably could not survive six weeks if you were suddenly in those same conditions. The empathy on this site is almost nonexistant.

    You also have no idea how hard it is to buy property in this city. Even people making much more than all of these people put together, have a hard time saving for a down payment and closing costs. How are you supposed to do it living in poverty? You are assuming that while they were living it up “living there for next to nothing”, they were making what you make. Not.

    I agree with the poster who asked why they didn’t buy a house without rent stabilized tenants, and I am also sure they benefited from a lower sales price precisely because of those tenants. It may be legal to evict them, but it certainly is heartless, cold and calculating. I would not be able to sleep in my posh triplex knowing that several families were out in the cold because of me.

  • “There are few cases in capitalism where one person’s consumption directly causes someone else’s suffering, but that is the case here.”

    I don’t disagree with everyone here, but as to the above quote: wake up! Where do you think all those cheap goods American consumers demand come from? Near-slave like conditions in developing countries. And these low-price goods cause factories here to close or de-unionize, causing… suffering.

    Hey, I’m a pragmatist. This is the world we live in. But don’t go around saying that the human cost of unfettered capitalism is low.

  • Two couples buy it together but only one couple gets a triplex.What does the other get.A floorthru,or just the bill.This does not make sense.If you needed another couple to help you buy, you more than likely need rental income. So would the other couple as well.Sounds like an excuse to get them out. I am a Brooklyn landlord and have seen people try to get away with just about anything.Just because you own a parcel of land in this city,does not mean that you can crap all over people who do not.

  • 10:39,

    You are relying on the same tactic that will surely fail these protesters: shame. Your comparison of this case with the appalling human rights abuses of Iran is outrageous. Plus, hyperbole is hardly an effective tactic of debate.

  • Anyone know what the final result of the couple from Brooklyn who bought a 12 or 14 unit Rent Stabilized building on East 3rd Street in the east village. I believe they have evicted a number of tenants in the hopes of making a grand 12,000 sq ft home.

    Also I believe Steve Croman, (a alleged slum lord) tried to do the same thing a few years ago with a building on the Upper East side.

    What is the status of these similar cases? This would give an indication of how viable this would be.

  • “Apartments didn’t become dumps until rent control, because it was simply not profitable to do any renovation or repairs.”

    You obviously have not taken a tour of the Lower East Side Tenement Museum. Furthermore, it is profitable for a landlord to make repairs. Any major capital improvements get charged to the tenants as a permanent rent increase.

  • Jimmy Legs

    Let them eat cake!

  • 11.13

    “Your comparison of this case with the appalling human rights abuses of Iran is outrageous”

    Huh? Exactly where did I do that?

    I ask that you reread my post. I was taking these people to task on their logic. These two previous posters’ point is that full compliance with the law is not enough. They proposed that these owners should also have to stand for a further “moral” review.

    I stand by my statements. This is a country of laws. If they want to see how a system works where the law is not the final word, but rather that of a “moral” court, I commend that they examine the nation of Iran.

  • Oops, sorry. I’ve re-read your post and see your point.

  • I wonder if these buyers have considered taking the money they’ll be giving their attorneys and using it to buy out the tenants?

  • 10:54 Kudos for nailing down some of the reasons for rent controls, but you’re way off in arguing that some utopian free market existed before them. The extensive fights over tenement conditions in the latter 19th and early 20th centuries bespeak a more sordid history. Absentee landlords in particular often failed to maintain buildings until the city was compelled to intervene. Even then, many landlords simply abandoned the buildings rather than meet the modest standards. Certainly, the owner of a building should have many rights, but the public can lay claim to some as well, including the welfare of tenants.

    The frequent attempt on these boards to boil down all urban woes to government ‘interference with the market’ is both ahistorical and ingenuous.

  • 11.48;

    That is exactly what this is going to come down to. Tish and company are simply trying to help these tenants pump up the price for their leaving.

    This is the cost of doing business in NY with these arcane rent control laws, and why housing here is so decript and costly.

    The sooner rent control is done away with, the better. Until done, we’ll continue to have these shake-downs, er, excuse me, “protests”.

  • If the government wants to subsidize housing, it should.

    Private citizens should not have to subsidize other private citizens who lucked out and rented “regulated” apartments years ago.

    I, for expample, have a rent stabilized tenant who has shown me his stock portfolio of over 1 million dollars, but he loves his cheap rental and will never move.

    You folks who support NYC rent laws have good intentions, but don’t understand the details.

    Why should folks who don’t want to work be able to live off welfare in rent controlled privately owned housing? It’s frigging nuts!

  • NeoGrec

    These buildings were orginally constructed as apartment houses and have always been used as such so the “house” argument is a complete red herring.

  • “I, for expample, have a rent stabilized tenant who has shown me his stock portfolio of over 1 million dollars, but he loves his cheap rental and will never move…

    Why should folks who don’t want to work be able to live off welfare in rent controlled privately owned housing?”

    On the one hand, that nefarious speculator who games the system to pay low rent; on the other, that low-life who just refuses to work, sucking up all your hard-earned dollars. Why, where is the 2nd cousin, thrice removed living in up in his dead grandmother’s classic eight on $200/mo?

    Isn’t this just a bit tired.

    Can’t we retire these straw-men and look seriously at who the majority of rent-stabilized folks are: the service industry folks and public servants, the young couples and immigrants working their way up, the older neighbors who have kept watch over the neighborhood through good and bad, my students who come to class exhausted after leaving third-shift.

    We may not agree on what should be done, but at least we’ll be talking honestly about who they are.

  • 12:27, I’m with you.

    As for the comment “I, for expample, have a rent stabilized tenant who has shown me his stock portfolio of over 1 million dollars, but he loves his cheap rental and will never move.” — I believe that if that’s the case, you can decontrol his apartment, so I’m not sure what your grip is.

  • “Please remember that these laws were created because of the abuses perpetrated by landlords when there was no regulation to protect tenants.”

    These laws were created after/during WWII to protect against profiteering in an artificially unbalanced market (i.e. returning GIs, migration due to war jobs available and displaced workforce).

    Why do these folks get to have rent stabilization while others get to pay market rates? This is an idiotic situation that needs to end soon.

  • I live in a rent stabilized apartment on Ocean Parkway in Brooklyn (Kensington). The apartment is a huge 2 bedroom with 1-1/2 baths, and my husband and I pay just under $1600 a month. The building was once grand, has now seen better days, and could use some renovations (however, it is kept clean, the elevator always works, we have plenty of heat and hot water, and the laundry machines are all new). If you are familiar with the area, you know it is diverse (racially and economically), relatively safe, and not at all hip. Many say the area is ripe for gentrification. I’m not so sure. My neighborhood and building are what many people on these boards would call a shithole. So be it. This apartment allows me to work at a job I love, allows my husband to stay at home with our kid while working on a screenplay and freelancing as a writer, and allows us to live in the city within our means. I make in the low six figures, and I have to tell you, that’s not much in this city, and I am grateful for the laws that protect us in this apartment. We got priced out of Carroll Gardens (after living there for 16 years) and it hurt, but I accept the fact that when I should have bought I had no money, and when I finally had money it wasn’t enough. So there you go. I’m a rent stabilized apartment dweller cira 2007. Have at me.

  • I bought when I had no money, and did it as a single working class female by (1) saving every cent I otherwise would have paid in rent for eight years when I had a stabilized apt in Manhattan and (2) buying in a neighborhood that none of my friends would visit. I had to fight banks to get a mortgage, since the neighborhood was still redlined. It was called Clinton Hill. My parents wept and my friends said I’d be dead in a year. Twenty years later, I have a lovely triplex and the rental income pays the almost-demolished mortgage…and the same people think I was smart to buy then. It wasn’t a strategy (never thought of it as an investment), but if you work in NYC and want to own, it still makes sense to me to go further out near public transportation, buy an affordable place with enough space to grow into in an area that nobody considers chic, and put down roots. Where there’s a will there’s a way.

  • 12:46 you are not living within your means as you claim. You are being subsidized by your landlord and you are far from needy. And despite the seemingly pleasant tone of your post your attitude is essentially “I got mine so there.”

  • 12:46: you make “low six” and still need rent control help? wow. I’ll bet you could be making high six, and you’ll be in the same “shithole”.
    You have too many leakages.

  • Guest at 1pm. That is the way to do it, but others on this board think that is unfair to poor people. If someone is poor, they believe that such people should be able to stay in a particular place as long as they wish too, regardless of changes to a neighborhood, property values etc.

  • This address is going to be watched carefully so I am sure the new owners will occupy it or get sued.

  • Many posters here seem to be unfamiliar with New York’s peculiar rent protection laws. In NYC, renters and their heirs, own the right to occupy their rent regulated unit. If Real estate onwership is a bundle of rights, the renters own quite a few pieces of the bundle. Rent control did not start yesterday, it has been this way in the city since the 1940′s. The courts are not going to be sympathetic to these owners. They have a long hard, and I would guess, fruitless road ahead of them.
    Owning rental property in NY is not like owning it in a state like Florida where you can evict a long ime tenant for being fifteen days late with the rent.
    The NYC politicians are every bit as bound up in this as are the landlords. No one who wants to reform the rent laws would ever be elected in the city. Rent control is a peculiar legacy of NYC and many people here have arranged and lived their lives around it. You just can’t change the rules when it suits you, odd as those rules may seem.

  • I work in the non-profit sector and make low $40s. Does anyone have a house they would like to sell me (aside from Countrywide et al) that is within my means?

  • Some of you people who’re too poor to buy real estate in NYC need to realize that nice homes aren’t for everyone. You could move upstate or out of state…just keep going until things become affordable. If you change your location and lower your standards sufficiently, you’ll find something affordable. In the meantime, please stop your whining and get back to work.

    And yes, I WILL have fries with that, thank you very much.

  • Hi 1:00 and 1:03, this is 12:46,

    1:00 — you were smart and brave and I wish I had done the same. For what it’s worth, when I say I had no money, I mean I really had no money. I was working in the non-profit theatre and making about $16,000 a year, so any scrimping I did was to be able to do laundry! As my income increased (I left the theatre to do something else) I first paid off a rather substantial credit card debt (which I accumulated trying to live on $16,000 a year and then getting divorced). Buying always felt very overwhelming and rather impossible, but in retrospect I see I made many missteps along the way. My husband and I are a little lost as to what to do now, to be honest, which is one of the reasons I read these boards. We’re out of debt and saving (which we’re able to do because we’re in this rent stabilized situation), and the goal is to buy and move along so someone else can have the benefit of our place. I will admit that I’m less willing to be a “pioneer,” as you were, with a 2-year-old. Any ideas where we should be looking? You seem to have a good head for this.

    1:03 — I’m not sure I follow. I don’t claim to be needy, but I do think that $100,000 doesn’t go very far here (in fact, I recently read a thread that claimed that making in the low six figures makes you just “average” in NYC, and that you haven’t accomplished very much at that salary. As I worked like hell to get to $100,000, that smarted.) As I say above, our goal is to save and then move along into a place we own. I’m the opposite of “I got mine … ” I’m grateful. I think everyone deserves a safe, clean, affordable place to live, and I feel fortunate to be in our situation. I didn’t mean to come off as an entitled jerk. I wrote my original post just to illustrate that not everyone in rent stabilization is paying $200 a month while holding a million dollar portfolio, a deadbeat, or a lucky SOB in a classic 6 that he got from grandma. Some people are just working stiffs like me and my husband, with a kid. Just curious, what would you have us do instead? And I’m not trying to provoke or pick a fight, so play nice.

    Yeah yeah, I know, we should just pack up and move to Iowa. But where’s a girl from the Bronx supposed to find a good bagel there?

  • when we moved to New York in 2003, we scored a small 2 br on the Upper West Side for 1700, rent stabilized. We lived there for a year, saved a bunch of money and then bought. I have no problem with people following the rules re rent control/stabilization.

    The problem is those who don’t. In our current small co-op, which still has 4 rent controlled apts., there are at least 2 in which there are illegal subletters. However, the leaseholders know that we cannot afford a protracted legal fight to find them in violation. It’s instances like this that make me hate the system.

    As for the house in question: the owners have chosen to roll the dice with an eviction fight, but perhaps there’s a middle ground that could be reached through mediation, like a lump sum and x number of months to find a new place.

  • If all of the people who are “too poor” to afford anything in NYC decided to move to more affordable areas, who would teach the children? Who would serve as police officers and firefighters or pick up your trash? An effective community can support people at all levels of the society, not just the folks in the million dollar homes. I don’t think people are arguing that ["poor people", civil servants for example] are entitled to Brownstone luxury, but for goodness sake, why shouldn’t the “average Joe” who’s not making a Wall Street wage get to own a home also?

  • Hey 1:17, it’s 12:46. I guess on paper it sounds like we’re leaking money, but I gotta say, after paying rent and insurance (life, renters, health, disability), feeding everyone (we don’t order or go out, we cook every night), clothing everyone (from Old Navy & the Gap, mostly, and who knew a kid’s feet could grow so fast?), keeping the lights on and the phone working and the computer connected, and putting some money away in savings/college fund, we’re breaking even. No vacations, no car (we get there on the subway or we don’t get there at all), and we see all of our movies on DVD. We’re happy, and I’m not complaining, but I’m not sure what other corners we could be cutting. And for what it’s worth, I don’t think I live in a shithole, but my neighborhood has been called that here and on Curbed.

  • 1:55–

    The next thing you’ll likely be told is that if those folks just moved along out of here to some place more appropriate to their income–somewhere like Poughkeepsie, or better, Bismarck–the city and employers would be forced to pay them what they’re worth to maintain basic services. You know, just like in Atlas Shrugged. After a while the remaining folks who decide they can’t hack the increasing costs of services will leave, easing pressure on the housing market. Then, the people who stuck out the commute from PA can move back in with their higher salaries, and order will be restored. Isn’t the invisible hand marvelous to behold?

    I’d put my money on the city’s physical and social infrastructure collapsing long before then.

  • Hi, 1:47, it’s 1:00. I haven’t been researching farther-flung areas in the five boroughs, but if I were you I’d think about looking in the Hudson Valley, at stops on MetroNorth, which means not going further north than Poughkeepsie (Amtrak is hopeless, too expensive, and unreliable). But the MetroNorth commute isn’t too long or expensive, the ride along the river is absolutely beautiful, and some of those towns have decent public schools or affordable private ones. Poughkeepsie in particular has big kid-friendly houses in historic districts with huge front and back yards and garages, a walkable distance from the station. Just make sure you understand the local property tax structure, as some of the smaller HV towns impose insane annual tax burdens on what otherwise look like affordable houses. Otherwise, I think I’d look in Queens – maybe Jackson Heights, though I know that’s gotten pricey too.

  • Don’t knock Poughkeepsie. It’s affordable, not too far out of the city, has some lovely areas, and is quite commutable. Not another universe. You’d be surprised how many people make that commute daily, and afford the house, the kids, the school and the commute on a middle class income.

  • There are many areas in NYC where one could live on a budget (Qns, SI, BX). It may not be fashionable but you can still get to and from work and have an opportunity to save for your own place.

  • Thanks for the thoughts everyone. We’ll take a look at some of those Hudson Valley commuter towns.

  • I am the poster from 10:32. Regarding the person with the “go to Iran” comment, calm down. I said nothing like there should be some kind of theocratic courts of morals. I just hope that the owners, and people like them, don’t go about their legal, free market evicting process with the self-righteous zeal that some here seem to want to apply to the uglier side of capitalism.

    And again, nobody forced these renters into somebody’s private house – the owners chose to buy a building that already had people living in it. People shouldn’t be celebrating the evictions like the owners are somehow doing God’s work to further the end of rent control. The tone on this site is that the owers are actually morally superior for what they are doing. And in this case, the owners are reducing the housing supply, not increasing it, with their actions — so the argument that rent decontrol leads to more housing does not apply here.

  • 1:55,

    There are programs for middle income wage earners like “Officer/Teacher Next Door” which allows Cops, CO’s and teachers to purchase rehabbed homes throughout the city and outlying areas for 50% of their market value. HUD also has programs for other civil servants and other average joes(that would not be you Ms. low six figure maker in stablized apt!) with similar terms. Neighborhood Housing Services(NHS) and HPD have programs as well. I have friends who purchased through one or the other of these programs. They all had to diligently track listings on the websites and put in numerous bids or lottery applications but they eventually got something. We need more of these programs but home ownership is definitely possible especially if you are willing make sacrifices. Sometimes that might mean being a “pioneer.”

  • 1:17 here. Listen, you’re no exception to bills/insurances/utilites/whatnots…I can’t seem to fathom how 100K+/yr cannot afford decent 2br unit Kensington/Midwood/Bay Ridge (somewhere $350-400K) even on today’s CRAZY market. My gf & I barely make 80K combined but we feel confident that we can hold down $350K unit comfortably together and she’s an artist as well. Obviously you and yr partner made different but rather convenient & short-sighted choices. But, I’m just not buying your rationale/story for needing rent subsidy and how you can’t afford anything with 100k+/yr.

  • 3.13

    YOU are the person who tried to come off as morally superior, calling these owners “heartless” and “selfish” for simply exerting their rights under the law.

    Yes, they bought a building with renters in it. They also assumed that the law would be upheld, and that law gives them the right to evict these renters if they are going to occupy the building.

    For following the law in both its spirit and letter, they are labelled as such by you and these demagogue politicians.

  • Hi 3:28. There’s no “plus” on the $100,000, it’s just $100,000 (I guess that’s the lowest of the six figures). Do you and your girlfriend have a kid? I don’t mean that as a challenge, but I’d ask you to consider how that really does change the overall financial picture (the cost of childcare vs having a parent at home, medical bills, diapers, etc.) I totally cop to having made both convienient and short-sighted choices in the past (should have bought when I was single and prices were still relatively low), but I’m trying to mend my ways! You know what’s funny? In other threads, I’ve gotten bashed as being a low-income shithole dweller who didn’t have the right to an opinion because I wasn’t a big enoungh player to be in the game, yet here I get the feeling I make a decent amount of money. It’s hard to keep perspective sometimes, reading about million dollar studio apartments. But based on this, I’ll take another look at what mght be possible for me and my family.

  • 3:48 – anyone who gives out too much personal info on these threads gets bashed. Of course you’re thrilled you have a rent controlled apt. Anyone would be and would snap it up in a second. It’s ridiculous to feel you need to apologize for it. And I think it would be pretty damn hard to save up the 70-80,000 (or even 35,000) you need for a deposit on a $350/400,000 apt on a $100,000/year salary with a child and stay-at-home spouse – unless – as people so often do and conveniently don’t mention it – you can get a loan/gift from parents.

  • Where is the other couple going to live?

  • I came across a statistic the other day that said 25% of the tenants in NYC receive gov’t assistance to pay for rent. Think of that – one in four! So if you ask where tenants get the sense of entitlement there is your answer – from our politicians, who buy off votes will gov’t handouts. I don’t know if these particular tenants were receiving rent subsidies, but it’s the same mindset, of getting something for nothing (in this case the misplaced belief that a tenant has an “ownership” stake in their rental apartment). According to tenants and politicians, landlords are all evil, scum sucking vampires and thus have no rights, and all tenants are hard working angels being “abused” by the system. The problem with NYC is it’s almost impossible to get the bad tenants out of buildings, making it very difficult to run buildings profitably in working class neighborhoods (in Manhattan the upside is so great you can carry a handful of deadbeat tenants). Public interest stories like this infuriate me, maybe if our politicians had ever worked a real day in their life, and attempted to run a business or own a building in NYC and deal with all the regulations, taxes, fees, union b.s., etc., then maybe they would be a little bit more understanding of landlords. And let’s face it, the vast majority of landlords are small business owners, immigrants, etc. just trying to get ahead in life. Screw these tenants, can’t wait until they get evicted!

  • Hi 4:43, 3:28 here. My gf was given a newly constructed 1-bed place at Murray Hill section several years ago with 500-$600 monthly rent. She refused! Ha! there goes your theory out the window…not everybody pounce at the site of freebies because some believe theres always a price at the end of the day.

    She decided to make it on her own and we bought a place together few years later in Park Slope and we are better off for it.

  • Wouldnt the rent stabilized tenants in this story have been better off using their time to look for other apartments [perhaps further out from where they live now, I dont see why that is such a big deal], they are obviously just staying put and trying to create a fuss to get a payout from the owners. And who is to say that the new owners aren’t as ‘diverse’ as the tenants – this is bullshit.

  • 5:27 – I cant wait for these tenants to be evicted too, I’m going to follow this story and wish the landlords luck

  • does anyone else think that this situation does not bode well for the new owner’s once/if they move in? there names and address are out there, people are protesting…how will they be treated by their new neighbors? no moral judgement here on what they are doing, just wondering.

  • “Wouldnt the rent stabilized tenants in this story have been better off using their time to look for other apartments” – well maybe they were working 2 jobs, plus taking care of kids and family, or even going to night school to try to better themselves? You don’t know, so how can you judge? Now you’re going to tell people what to do with their time? It’s bad enough you’ve elected to dictate where and how they live.

    “[perhaps further out from where they live now, I dont see why that is such a big deal]“, – Oh? I don’t see anyone on this blog moving out to Far Rockaway or the North Bronx. Not good enough for you, but no big deal for someone else. Do you know anything about these people except for your presumed generalizations? No.

    “they are obviously just staying put and trying to create a fuss to get a payout from the owners.” Oh yeah, obviously. More than likely they just want to stay where they’ve lived for 20 years. Hard to fathom that, I’m sure.

    “And who is to say that the new owners aren’t as ‘diverse’ as the tenants” – Who cares, this is about economics, not race or ethnicity. Some of you people would kick your own grandmothers out into the street.

    “this is bullshit.” – Truer words were never spoken.

  • “does anyone else think that this situation does not bode well for the new owner’s once/if they move in? there names and address are out there, people are protesting…how will they be treated by their new neighbors? no moral judgement here on what they are doing, just wondering.”

    8.18

    That is precisely the objective of this group. We have a combination of thuggery, a shake-down and demagoguery at work here. How to explain a “block party” zeroing in on these particular owners? How to explain the publicity all over the place? They are not promoting a piece of legislation that any of these two-bit politicians have ACTUALLY introduced.

    This is street theater at its worst. The politicians engage in some cheap demagoguery, without actually doing anything. The tennants get a bigger pay-off. The street mob gets to enjoy a block party, complete with “home cooked” food.

  • there seems to be a great deal of misinformation on the subject of “rent stabilization”

    every situation is different and can’t be lumped together. not every landlord is intent on fraud, not every tenant is a saint.

    check out the link below describing the situation alluded to regarding the Rent Stabilized building on East 3rd Street in the east village

    http://www.economakis.com/

    The appeals court upheld the owner of this property’s right to reclaim “rent stabilized” units for personal use. By the way it was a 4-0 decision.

    Clearly the Law is on the owners side in these situations.

    If the Law were changed then there would in effect be no difference between “rent stabilized” and “rent controlled”
    The fact is that “rent stabilized” is a legal definition that allows for the owner to reclaim units for personal use.

    While I feel sorry for the tenants who are forced to move it is no different than any other tenant who is forced to move when an owner does not renew a lease. These situations happen every day all over the country. is it realy worthy of a “block party” to bring this situation to light. My god if every tenant whose lease is not renewed held a block party, the entire economy would grind to a halt. Should we have block parties for people who lose their jobs too?

    My guess is that there are no villans here, so why try to create them?

  • How about if all of us who are disgusted by the political posturing here–which is in direct contrast to the legal rights of the owners–call James’s office to lodge our disagreement, objection, etc.

    I find it really appalling that politicians would demonize–by name–people doing exactly what the law entitles them to do.

  • Far too many of you here are confusing “law” with “court decision.” And, in the case of the East Village building, it went like this: owners won the first round, tenants won on appeal, and then the owners appealed and won. Nowhere in the United States is a property owner “guaranteed” a right to do anything with their property that they please. And 90% of the posters who whine about greedy developers tearing down historic properties already believe this. But, of course, it’s different if living, breathing human beings stand in your way, isn’t it?

  • These tenants have had their run of BARGAIN rent and now it’s time for them to pay market rate like everyone else in this city does. YES IT IS HARD to fathom that they want to stay where they have lived for 20 years – easier to fathom that they just want to continue paying the rent they have been paying for 20 years!!!!!!!!!! Anyone that pays market rate for their apartment could not possibly have sympathy for these tenants.
    To 8.47 – I do know more about the tenants than you because I have followed this story and read about it in the Daily News and you obviously have not – none of the tenants in this case are even employed – do you still feel sorry for them now bitch?

  • 10:36–I don’t know what you mean by “guaranteed” and I don’t know about the ups and downs of some east village place but a statute is a statute, even though it can be open to endless interpretation. What do you mean “living, breathing human beings”? You mean like the people who own the property?

  • if you want to talk about govt subsidy for housing, the biggest culprit is the income tax deduction that homeowners receive on interest payments. as an owner, i along with other Americans who are fortunate enough to own their homes, are recepient to countless billions in these govt ‘handouts’. also in nyc, particularly in brownstone brooklyn, property tax rates are especially low for 1-2 families vs. multifamily properties. both of these ‘subsidies’ are regressive as renters tend to have lower incomes than owners. so let’s get away from all the stereotypical judgements that are being thrown around on this blog about the character, motivations, work ethic and means of the tenants who are being displaced. it is at the least very bad policy, and I would agree with earlier posters immoral to displace 4 families to create 1 massive home for 2 people in today’s tight housing market. 3,500 sf where do they thin kthey are? dallas? legal change always begins somewhere. perhaps it’s the accumulation of incidents like this, which are ‘legal’, that lead end/amend bad laws or add necessary laws. after all how many things that were ‘legal’ at one point were later viewed as at best poor policy and at worst immoral.

    this is my first post on this board and after having spent a few hours (i know nothing better to do w/ my time i guess) reading comments, i have to say the level of outright selfish, i got mine (w/ no gov’t help of course), and racist attitudes is disturbing. i feel ashamed to live in brooklyn.

  • I dont understend why tenants, insted of being greatfull for having 20 years plus discunt (i wonder how much money they were able to save?) atacking new owners who just want to use what they own. I have been to this country 10 years but i am still confiused, it is like a eastern europe again, what kind of AMEARICA is that?

  • AMERICA – i quess i should be able to spell this by now :)

  • It’s a 3500sq ft home for 2 parents and their 2 children and their 2 grandparents – not for 2 people as 12.03 says. I dont think that is “massive”.

  • The owners are trying to beat the system by buying a property that can be considered “undervalued” due to the fact that most people just aren’t sleazy enough to acquire a home in this manner.

    Is this the kind of garbage that’s moving into Prospect Heights these days? Yuk.

  • The owners are probably spending hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees, it’s not exactly a cheap way to “beat the system” so there must be more to it than that.

  • Am I the only one disturbed that someone can’t even post an opinion here without being called “bitch” by some cretin with a computer, as did “guest at 10:47″? That’s really beyond the scope of argument or stating one’s opinion. I guess when some people can’t argue their point intelligently, they fall back on childish name calling. Way to go.

  • isn’t every home buyer trying to “beat the system” when they purchase a house?

    isn’t everyone who purchases anything and bargains in the process trying to “beat the system”?

    when you get a job and negotiate higher pay than a colleague, are you “beating the system”?

    i believe someone in an earlier post mentioned “Atlas Shrugged” . Ayn Rand would be shaking her head after reading these series of posts. With the ” immoral to displace 4 families to create 1 massive home for 2 people in today’s tight housing market. 3,500 sf where do they thin kthey are? dallas?” comment:

    now that could be straight out of the “Fountainhead” or “Atlas Shrugged”. imagine that in 2007?

  • is it immoral to eat as much food as we eat in America while folks in Darfur starve?

    everytime you go to grocery store to buy that big steak, the politicians should picket infront of the store so you feel guilty that someone who doesn’t have the money to buy the steak can’t have any.

  • 90 percent of all poor people should be euthanized. The remaining 10 percent should get their black asses back to work!

  • Brownstoner could do with moderating these boards. Don’t think racism has a place here.

  • You mean OVERT racism has no place here, right? This site couldn’t survive without other, less obvious kinds of racism.

  • One of these tenants is paying only $402 per month! Normally, that would rent for at least $1800 a month. Time for these folks to move on…

  • I think the East Village case has been getting a lot of attention because it is just SO out of whack. They claim that one family will live in a 60-room building. In the Brooklyn case, it is very likely that the owners will live there, and although it will be a generous space, it is not bizarrely huge.

  • Our ignorant, racist troll can’t even get his rant correct. There are many, many more poor white people than black people across this country. They don’t call us minorities for nothing. So after he and his ilk try to get rid of 90% of the poor, the remaining ten percent are statistically going to be predominantly white. Those are white asses as well as black ones that need work.

    Goes to show we are all in this boat together. Better that we should get rid of 100% of the racist idiots.

  • But if we eliminated all racist idiots, Brownstoner would be left without a readership!

  • Including you, 12:00PM.

  • 12:48 PM, shouldn’t you have gone after 7:55 AM and not 12:00PM?

  • Some people benifit from rent controls and others from child labor, and still others from slavery and the holocaust; these renters seem to be the most harmless of the bunch and I have 11 such tenants. We had tenants paying between $83.00 and $136.00 in Boerum Hill for one bedrooms in the 80′s now it’s betweew $1200 and change and $1750. and change. Tenants can be, and usually are scum, but I am pulling for them after the sentiments I see written in these comments … most of it is plain evil, vile and mean spirited.

  • Jeez, when will people learn that hyperbolic comparisons to slavery and the holocaust just plain silly? Really, it’s an insult to even compare the two to rent control. As stated much earlier in this thread, guilt tactics are unlikely to persuade people to see your point of view.

  • How about the hyperbolic comparison to child labor, is that okay?

  • We bought a 4-family brownstone 6 years ago. It had 2 market-rate tenants, and we specifically did NOT buy a house with rent controlled, or even rent stabilized tenants, despite our plans to take over 2 floors of the building. We also interviewed the sitting tenants to make sure we liked them, despite them having no “rights” to remain. If we had not, we would have insisted on getting the house vacant or we would have walked away from the deal.

    We could have saved hundreds of thousands of dollars by buying a building with rent stabilized tenants, but we didn’t because we did not want to be a position of having to evict someone. If this couple got a discount for buying a building with stabilized tenants, I have no sympathy for the plight they are in. They tried to get a “bargain” by upending people’s homes and they knew exactly what they were in for. There are plenty of one-family’s on the market. If they couldn’t “afford” to buy one, by some of you posters’ reasoning, they should have bought a house somewhere else, not tried to get some financial advantage because they were willing to do something most people would find difficult to do.

    There is nothing wrong with rent stabilization. It’s the law, and everyone that buys a building now gets a discount if they have stabilized tenants. There IS something wrong with tenants who abuse stabilization — illegal sublets, etc. But those of you criticizing the poster who has a 2-bedroom apartment in Kensington for $1,600 are hypocrites unless you also are willing for your next door neighbor to add 10 stories onto his building.

    The owner of a rent stabilized apartment building knew the law when they bought it — just like we all knew the zoning laws when we bought our homes. So, I can’t just do whatever I want with my home, and neither can your neighbor. Those of you who insist an owner should be able to do anything they want with their property should also insist that all zoning be outlawed so we can all build up to our heart’s content. Or raise cows or chickens in our backyard. Or make our basement floor a restaurant with ourdoor seating. You buy a property knowing the restrictions on it, so don’t cry poor me when you try to get (legally) around them. Just buy another property, or accept the criticism. After all, didn’t Scarano just try to “legally” get around the laws and everyone here is so quick to criticism him.

  • were the tenants offered a buyout? How much?
    There are 3 building on my block being emptied via buyouts.

    let make sure these tenants get a market rate buyout.

  • Thanks, 5:33pm (I’m 4:49). I also wanted to add that 12:03am’s post about all of us benefiting from the mortgage tax deduction subsidy is right on. Talk about welfare for the rich — I guess it’s completely fair that if you buy an expensive home with a big mortgage, you get to save a huge amount more on your taxes than the middle class person whose mortgage is 1/10th of yours. While low income renters pay a much higher % of tax on their significantly smaller income, since they can’t afford to buy anything and benefit from the deduction.

    My hope here is that the vehement critics of rent stabilization here are really just one or two sad people with too much time on their hands. I’m no knee-jerk defendant of rent control/stabilization laws, and anyone who abuses them should lose their rights. However, many people got their rent stabilized apartments in an up front, legal way, making an agreement with their landlord to live somewhere which was not at the time an especially desirable location in exchange for a rent stabilized apt. It was never part of the bargain that if, 20 years later, the area becomes “hot”, the landlord could simply kick out the tenant.

    That’s sort of like the city/state suddenly deciding to end all zoning, and you being told, “tough luck, kiddo”, what right did you have to protest, we should all be free to build whatever we want. Hey, maybe the city could even just decide to lift the landmarks’ protection on neighborhoods! Let anyone in FG and Park Slope tear down their brownstones and build mini-mcmansions like you see on Ocean Parkway. Just because you bought your brownstone in a landmarked neighborhood gives you no right to think that government has to keep such a silly law in place, so just live with it.

  • hey 4:49
    maybe these owners also knew the law before they bought…
    they are LEGALLY ALLOWED (when a judge rules) to move tenants on if they want to occupy their building
    your argument is about your personal morals, not about the law
    and yet you bring in obvious illegal issues like, what, poultry farming etc?
    here’s an arguement after your own…
    i may not advocate abortion, but by law women are allowed the choice
    it’s an unfortunate system (in my opinion), but i don’t demonize or judge the women who choose to use the freedom the law allows them.

  • 4:49

    Doesn’t your logic also go for the tenants. They presumably should have known that Owners can reclaim rent stabilized units for their personal use as stated in the “Rent Stabilization Law”

    You should then agree that “You [rent] a property knowing the restrictions on it, so don’t cry poor me when you try to get (legally) around them[by appealing to public sentiment]. Just [rent] another property, or accept the criticism. After all, didn’t Scarano just try to “legally” get around the laws and everyone here is so quick to criticism him.

    Why do some of you want to hold tenants to a different moral standard than owners?

  • No one knows the real stories of the Tenants OR the Landlords – who is to say that the Landlords dont have their own hard-luck stories, afterall they are the ones that have invested the time and money in this building that they bought legally and are not even allowed to live in, they are not doing anything illegal by exercising their right to live in a building they own. The tenants are the ones that are being unlawful by remaining there, they are probably not even paying rent and using all this publicity to distract from that.

  • 9:09 – Nice thought, but most low income renters pay next to nothing (or nothing) in income tax as it is. A Mortgage tax deduction is not a subsidy, its an incentive to work hard and not penalize you for using your hard work (i.e. capital) to invest in property.

  • But the abortion analogy is a poor one — you either get an abortion or you don’t. How about the analogy with Scarano’s “mezzanaines”? He simply used a loophole he found in the law to do something that most architects would find abhorrent. But what he did was “legally allowed” (they just couldn’t be called “floors”, but perfectly fine to have them).

    I am not demonizing the people that bought the rent stabilized building, but I AM judging them (that is, I am judging them if they got a sharp discount in the price they paid for their home). They are using a loophole. I do find the Prospect Heights owner -occupation of the buildng more legitimate if they do truly want to take over the house and live there for a long time. But to take it over, triplex it, live in it for a year and then sell it would be abusing that law. The east village couple who could legally evict all tenants because they needed 60 rooms for their family home is truly sickening, sorry. If they need 60 rooms, they’re rich enough to buy a nice home somewhere else. They bought that building at a discount because most people don’t have the audacity to do that to other people to save a buck.

    It’s also perfectly legal for someone to convince some poor old person to take out a high interest home equity loan on their 40-year home that is now worth a million dollars. But, yes, my personal morals are such that I would judge harshly a salesman who made big commissions from legal loans whose end result is to cause a homeowner to lose their house.

    It’s about what you are willing to do to save or earn money.

    The poultry farming remark was in response to the posters who were screaming that no one deserved a rent stabilized (not controlled) apartment, despite that being the law. They wanted that law repealed. I was just pointing out that we all benefit from various laws, and if their philosophy was that homeowners should have the right to do anything they want on their property, then they should also be opposed to the zoning which prevents their neighbors from having chickens.

  • 9:27 you make a good point. Perhaps tenants should have known that their right to a rent stabilized apartment could be gone in a flash (and I’m assuming that clause in the Rent Stabilization Law has been in place for as long as the law has, and not some recent addition).

    However, let’s face it — most people aren’t reminded when signing their rent-stabilized lease, “hey, we can make you move whenever we decide to take over your apartment ourselves”. There’s no “discount” to your rent because you might have to move any year. But there is a discount for new buyers of buildings with rent controlled or rent stabilized tenants. Lots more people here could buy brownstones if they were willing to do what it takes to evict people, but most people would rather settle for a smaller, more affordable house with no tenants than benefit from a forced eviction of long-time apartment dwellers.

  • Again, owner-use is NOT A LOOPHOLE.
    It is a well-tested point of law.
    If you think the law is wrong, fine.
    But the owners are doing nothing illegal, and actually nothing particularly uncommon.
    The law allows them to occupy a building that they own.
    Anyone claiming this is ABUSE (not really intending to live there, flipping the apts etc etc) is really just assuming that all landlords are evil scum and all rent stabilized tenants are angels.
    A court will decide if the owners intentions are legitimate or not.

  • 10.07

    is twenty years really a “flash”

    come on you have to argue with some intellectual honesty.

    a renter who rents a rent stabilized apartment should be happy and indeed lucky to be able to stay for 20 years. especially those folks who rent in brownstones that were cut up, or in small apartment buildings.

    the legislature put the “owner use” section in the Law for a reason. that is one of the ways that it differs from “rent controlled” units

  • You are absolutely correct that folks taking over a rent stabilized building for their own use are doing something completely legal. And the people who have lived in the building for 20 years have been lucky to have a low rent for so long.

    But lots of things are legal, and that doesn’t make them pass the “smell” test. Just like taking advantage of some elderly homeowner can be perfectly legal. That doesn’t mean that critics can’t judge you for getting some finiancial gain for taking some action the rest of us find abhorrent.

    We all make choices every day. Most of us would choose to live in a different home that may not be as fabulous as the one we could afford if we displaced alot of long-time tenants from their home. But clearly, for some people, the value of a fabulous home — living in a triplex instead of a duplex, or having a 60-room mansion instead of a 30 — far outweighs the “inconvenience” of getting rid of the current tenants.

    The context matters. I have no problem with the eviction if these are the long-time home owners who had a rental building they decided to live in as their primary residence. But if these are new owners buying a new property at a discount because it has rent stabilized tenants they know they can legally evict, well, I think that’s an action that is more questionable. Why not simply buy another Prospect Heights brownstone that is vacant? This is not the only house on the market. But unless there is some compelling reason for THAT house, the owners are buying it because they can’t afford to get an empty house. Maybe they’d have to settle for a duplex only. So why shouldn’t they be rewarded for the willingness to evict, right?

    Same goes for the east village owners. They are rich enough to buy a mansion elsewhere — why did they have to buy that particular property, knowing full well what that meant.

    Sorry, but we all make choices every day. Without some compelling reason (and perhaps there is one I am unaware of) that someone had to buy THAT property instead of one that didn’t mean they had to displace alot of people, I find their actions worthy of criticism. Perfectly legal, but worthy of criticism.

  • I WALK BY THERE ALL THE TIME
    THAT BUILDING LOOKS LIKE A DUMP HAHA

  • Okay, I googled this, and as I suspected, the new owners of the Propect Heights house purchased it at a steep discount because it had rent stabilized tenants. I’m sure they would have had to settle for a much smaller co-op if they hadn’t been willing to evict.

    Sorry, I don’t believe most of the readers on here would make that trade-off. But how about a poll: You can buy a smaller property at market rate, but if you have no problems taking advantage of the law and displacing lots of poor families who have lived in a house for 20 years, you can get a “bargain” and get a whole brownstone for yourself. It’s all perfectly legal.

    We all love brownstones on this blog. Is getting one for yourself worth this tradeoff?

  • This isnt ‘Power of Ten’ here, it is ridiculous to throw out random suggestions about the percentages of people that would do this or that, and to assume that “Most of us would choose to live in a different home that may not be as fabulous as the one we could afford if we displaced alot of long-time tenants from their home” is such an unfounded generalization – If I had the money and could buy a whole building, of which half would house my family and the other half could pay for some of the mortgage, for the same price as ONE apartment, of course I am going to make the decision to buy the entire building over the one apartment.
    So the whole building is cheaper than the one apartment because it contains rent stabilized apartments, what, you are going to condemn me for choosing the option that I can afford because it will better house my large family, will be a better investment for my future and theirs? I dont believe that anyone wouldn’t do the same thing in the SAME situation and the only thing to put others off doing it is the prospect of public outings at Block parties like these poor landlords have had to endure.

    The landlords have paid for the building and they have the LEGAL right to live there, the tenants are renting [and probably not even paying rent during this 'protest'] and I find it astounding that they feel they have a claim to an apartment they dont even own just because they have lived there for a long time, I find THAT perfectly worthy of criticism.

  • You have a pretty low opinion of other people if you think the only reason people are unwilling to legally evict long-term tenants is simply because they are afraid of public outings. In your world, everyone would jump at such a deal, if they could only have done it quietly, so none of their neighbors knew what they had done to be able to afford their home.

    You can rationalize choices, of course. You are doing it for “your family” (although how a family needs 60 rooms I don’t know). The tenants are wrong for thinking they have some right to the apartment, so your actions are okay.

    But, there are lots of people who scrimped and saved for years to buy a brownstone. First they bought some crummy 1 bedroom that increased in value, or they bought some house they could afford in a neighborhood that wasn’t desirable, and devoted themselves to improving that community (as many in Prospect Heights did). Now they have a home worth nearly 2 million dollars and bully for them. If one of those 20-year homeowners had decided they wanted to take over another floor of their brownstone, and displace rent stabilized tenants, they of course have every right to do so.

    But these new owners took a shortcut. They weren’t rich enough to buy a vacant one outright, nor willing to go to a less desirable neighborhood. But hey, here’s a bargain building and all you have to do to own it is to evict lots of long term tenants who don’t have any right to it anyway. As you say, you’d jump at a chance to take such a shortcut.

    These buyers are 30 something people who had lots of options. I continue to believe that I’m not the only person here who would have picked a different option, even if it meant my family had to suffer by living in a 3 bedroom instead of 6. So don’t ask me to feel sorry for the owners who went into this deal with their eyes wide open. As you say, the law is on their side, and soon they will have the nice home of their dreams.

  • I would do it too if the tenants could be easily evicted and it was cheaper and larger than the average one bedroom, sure, why not?

  • So, what if the building wasnt rent stabilized and the new landlords could easily and quietly evict the tenants – is that as morally wrong? Or is everyone just pissed because the tenants in this case are rent stabilized and assumed to be poor – there is no comment from the landlords in this story, who is to say that the tenants are not wealthier than the landlords and are just being greedy and holding out for a large buyout? How do you know the buyers are 30-somethings? How do you know none of the tenants are 30-somethings?

  • Something else important to KNOW is that the Block Party in this story was organized by the Fifth Avenue Committee and they have been instrumental in naming the landlords and bad mouthing them in the press – Controversially, the Fifth Avenue Committee owns property in Sunset Park through a deal with the city. And they are displacing the residents who have lived in those properties for years and are now selling the properties at closer to market rate than the residents which the city had placed in them can afford. How hypocritical is that? And if the organizers of these rallies are displacing tenants themselves, then doesn’t this just reconfirm the views of 1:59 that anyone else would buy into a similar deal if they could.

  • ” I also wanted to add that 12:03am’s post about all of us benefiting from the mortgage tax deduction subsidy is right on. Talk about welfare for the rich — I guess it’s completely fair that if you buy an expensive home with a big mortgage, you get to save a huge amount more on your taxes than the middle class person whose mortgage is 1/10th of yours. While low income renters pay a much higher % of tax on their significantly smaller income, since they can’t afford to buy anything and benefit from the deduction.”

    How do you get to save a huge amount more than middle class people if you buy an expensive home? And when do lower income people pay a higher % of tax than higher income earners?

  • Seriously, if you don’t think that the simple act of buying a house or apartment, making improvements and increasing the property value ultimately forces renters of 20 plus years out of their homes, you are mistaken. It doesn’t only happen under one roof.

  • Rent controls causes shortage:
    No signal to entrepreneurs to build new homes.
    No incentive to maintain existing ones.

    There can be no doubt that rent control creates housing shortages. For almost 20 years, national vacancy rates have been at or above 7 percent–a figure generally considered normal. Cities such as Dallas, Houston, and Phoenix, where development is welcomed, have often had vacancy rates above 15 percent. In these areas of the country, there usually is a surplus of housing rather than a shortage.

    In rent-controlled cities, on the other hand, vacancy rates have been uniformly below normal. New York City has not had a vacancy rate above 5 percent since World War II. (The state’s rent control law, supposedly temporary, would automatically expire if it did.) In rent-controlled San Francisco, the vacancy rate is generally around 2 percent, and in San Jose the rate is 1 percent, the nation’s lowest. Meanwhile, comparable nonrent-controlled cities, such as Chicago, Philadelphia, San Diego, and Seattle have normal vacancy rates at or above 7 percent.

    Rent-controlled cities absorb these shortages in a variety of ways. Higher rates of homelessness are a manifestation of rent control. Another is the traditional difficulty individuals have in finding a new apartment in these cities. Crowding is a manifestation of rent control.

    In large metropolises a housing shortage can severely damage the city’s economy. Experience shows that when such cities adopt rent control, they usually try to avoid outright housing shortages by leaving segments of the market unregulated. Unsatisfied demand is diverted into this unregulated sector. Because of the shadow-market effect, people in this sector pay higher-than-market prices. Still, they are rarely conscious of the causation. Instead, they simply regard the city as “an expensive place to live” and often become a constituency for extending rent control to their own apartments.

    Using standard supply-and-demand theory, it is predicted that prices in the unregulated portion of the market will be forced higher than their normal market value. This is because the limited supply in the shadow market must absorb the shortage, the excess of demand over supply, in the regulated part of the market. Because prices are pushed too low in the regulated sector, they are forced above what would otherwise be the market price in the unregulated sector. The result is that average prices in both sectors are likely to end up about as high as their free-market level. They could end up higher because of maldistributions and diseconomies in the regulated sector of the market.

    Those cities that succumb to the disease of rent control are doomed to never-ending, house-to-house warfare over an everdiminishing supply of unaffordable housing.

  • to 11:48

    I agree wholeheartedly that we all make choices everyday. What I object to is the “Morality Police” that seems to patrol this blog. The main reason people are upset is that they think the owners have found a way to get a property at below market rates legally. Just like the main reason the tenants are upset is that they are faced with the possibility of no longer being able to lease an apartment while paying below maket rents.

    How can you make a moral judgement here? Both sides are either exibiting greed (the landlords) or expressing a misgotten sense of entitlement and greed (the tenants)

    If you forced the tenant to pay market rents would they stay? If you forced the owner to pay market price for the building would they have bought it? In both cases I think not.

    Trust me, the real issue here is not a moral one. It is economic. It is whether the tenants can cause the owners enough pain to extract the maximum settlement. Frankly this is the American way. You use whatever leverage you have to benefit yourself the most. But please spare me the notion that either side here sits on a moral high ground.

  • Tough shit. Those renters frankly have ZERO right to live in what is now someone else’s home, and the neighbors have no right to begrudge the buyers from buying a home for themselves. This is New York. It’s not for pussies.

  • Shove your sob stories up your ass. I need a house!

  • This is retarded. The problem with long term rent control is it gets people used to living in areas they realistically cannot afford to. Another way of looking at it is rent control removes a major incentive to improve your lot in life through hard work and sacrifice: financial stress.

    The guy who lived there for 17 years and didn’t bother to learn English…gee, I wonder why he’s not rolling in money right now? Must be the rich peoples’ fault. They’re so cold and heartless.

    My view? Don’t punish achievers (like the buyers) and don’t coddle losers (like at least some of the tenants). Give the tenants their Section 8 housing and be done with it.

  • You should all check out this blog post: “Entitlement Gone Wild”:
    http://afropologe.blogspot.com/2008/10/entitlement-gone-wild.html