Landlords Object to Tenant Protection Agency After Investigation of Crown Heights Owner

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Landlords are objecting to a newly created state agency designed to investigate landlords who violate rent regulation laws. They say the investigations “violate rules of due process and misuse subpoenas” to intimidate landlords who own small buildings, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Before the creation of the state agency, called Tenant Protection Unit, last year, the burden was on each individual tenant to take their landlord to court for violating rent regulation laws. There was no oversight of a pattern of rule breaking, and it would be difficult for ex-tenants to track whether landlords illegally deregulated apartments after they moved out. According to the Journal:

In its first year, the Tenant Protection Unit mainly conducted audits, looking at landlords who failed to file registration forms. It also asked landlords to document their spending on vacant-apartment improvements. In the past, landlords had to provide such documents only when a tenant filed an objection. The result, the unit said in a June news release, was to add back 20,000 apartments in 2,000 buildings to the rent-stabilized rolls. Landlords said much of that gain was because of clerical errors being corrected that didn’t change rents paid by tenants. Mitchell Posilkin, general counsel to the Rent Stabilization Association, a landlord group, said the review of renovations of vacant apartments was arbitrary and snared smaller landlords, who sometimes worked with contractors without formal record keeping. Tenant Marquetta Bell, a military veteran, said residents were concerned about an influx of new tenants from outside the neighborhood who were paying much higher market rents in apartments that were deregulated after renovation.

As reported last week, the Tenant Protection Unit is investigating a landlord with buildings in Crown Heights (above) and Flatbush who appears to be flagrantly violating the law. A tenant advocacy group in Crown Heights has complained about landlords in the area who they say kick out regulated tenants and illegally charge new tenants higher rents in regulated buildings.

Do you think landlords are being unduly burdened with requests for record keeping, or are they upset because the state is making it harder for them to break the law?

Landlords Owners Crying Foul Over State Tenant Protection Unit [WSJ]

7 Comment

  • I’m sure they are objecting. Who else gets a guaranteed increase in rent 3-9% each year while not providing a single service? I’ve lived in a rent stabilized apartment for almost 30 years. Made all major/minor repairs over the years. So this year (since as folks moved out) the vacated apartments are gut-renovated, new stainless steel appliances, dishwashers are put in, (dishwashers and pets are suddenly allowed in) I asked for an update for my apartment that I’ve paid rent for, for 30 years….the landlord said: “No. If I make any improvements to your apartment your rent will be increased substantially.” Good that there is oversight for ripping of hardworking folks who supported them over the years – when nobody wanted to even live in NYC.

  • If you know anything about the time and cost of suing a negligent landlord, it’s hard to believe that the only alternative before creation of this agency was for individual tenants to sue negligent landlords. Utterly ridiculous.

  • The Who
    A RS landlord is guaranteed any increase. You can negotiate any increase, however if you are paying under-market (which it sounds like you are) then obviously you have no leverage and will likely have to pay the increase.
    Not sure however why you are angry at your LL for not renovating your apartment, if you are paying below market rent why would he renovate your apartment for no increase? Obviously if he isnt providing required services, well thats wrong and you should call 311 and report it, but as it relates to Major Capital Improvements in your apartment, it is only reasonable that such improvements be reflected in higher rents. If you chose to not authorize such improvements the RS rules are very clear. The LL must provide you with the level of services that you got when you signed our lease.

    • Sorry i meant to say – a RS landlord is NOT guaranteed any increase – there % put out by the RS Board are not mandatory.

    • brklymind: Should I just wait until I fall through the 30 year old creaky floor (and file a lawsuit) because I (not the landlord) should make structural repairs? Or continue to pay high heating/cooling costs because the cheap/shoddy window installation lets in hot/cold air? I should replace/redo 30 y/o bathroom tiling and cabinets – and still pay an increasing 4 figure rent? You’re kidding me..right? I’ve patched the old hollow wooden floors as much as my budget can allow. Paint when needed, purchased my own stove and fridge and replace/repair old broken fixtures. The landlord gets to use my money (other renters money) to upgrade vacated apartments then charge market rents and I can’t get a replacement for a 30 y/o cheap door on my closet ….yea…I say this board or regulating agency is needed. I’m not angry I’m saying regulating is needed.

      • The LL must make structural repairs. If he doesnt call 311 they will send an HPD inspector and they will put violations on the building that will force the LL hand. The LL is required to paint every 2 years…if he doesnt see process above. If the appliances or windows are broken the LL must repair, if he doesnt follow process above. If a door, tile, fixture, etc… is broken or worn from age – LL must replace or repair – if e doesnt follow process above.

        HOWEVER, no you do not get ‘improved’ doors or upgraded appliances or new tiling (or anything like that). Thats the deal/law – you got your rent increases controlled for the last 30 years (and are now apparently well below market) and the landlord is required to provide you the apartment and services you got when you signed (30 years ago); Not improvements.

  • Doubtful that small LLs are being targeted. Record keeping has been part of RS/RC since it was established, so it’s difficult to cry foul at this late date.
    The DHCR was responsible for regulation of RS and RC apts– filings, paperwork, rental increases, etc. It’s not news that slumlords care more about their pockets and than about compliance or their tenants. Sad; but not news. If there weren’t problems, this new Unit wouldn’t be “created”.
    The idea that calling 311 is the answer, or that (more) violations are a concern to these slumlords, is just laughable.
    These slumlords may be forced to care, but only if they are trying to refinance and THEIR LENDER requires violation removal. Otherwise, you might get a shrug.
    It’s not unusual for changes to be paid by RS/RC tenants. Most leases require LL’s written permission prior to changes. It’s seldom granted. Why would a slumlord want a RS/RC tenant to be comfortable? That LL wants market rate tenants, not the tenants he has.
    Once changes are made, most tenants refuse entry to their LL for almost any reason. Inspection would show the unauthorized repairs, which then confirms that the lease was broken.
    My RC friend still has a bathtub in his UES kitchen; but at ? $321./mo for a 3 bdrm apt, he’s not complaining.
    The rules exist for a reason, and should be followed by both sides.
    I’m glad to see slumlords be enticed to “do the right thing(s)”.
    Both sides should be consider a truce, and not exploit their circumstances (illegal sublets, air b n b, etc) because they may both face stiffer consequences in the future when discovered.