Landlords Play Out Strategy

by Mae M. Cheng
Newsday, June 16, 1997
Rent regulation laws were expected to expire just hours ago, but some Queens landlords who had been planning for the deadline for weeks allowed their apartments to remain vacant in hopes that the units would be decontrolled, brokers said yesterday.

``They're holding them back to see what the new law will be, in case they will be decontrolled,'' said Madeline Ambron, who runs a realty office in Forest Hills.

According to her, landlords haven't been giving out listings of their vacant apartments for the past couple of months because of the possible expiration of the laws.

About 35 percent of the apartments in Forest Hills, Rego Park and Kew Gardens are affected by the laws, she said.

Tony Agusti, an associate broker in Astoria, also said that he had noticed the same strategy among a few landlords in his area.

Agusti estimates that 25 to 30 percent of the apartments in Astoria are affected by the laws, but even if the units are decontrolled, he said, he does not believe the rents will increase significantly.

``A lot of the apartments in this neighborhood, even the rent-stabilized ones, are already at market value,'' Agusti said.

Joseph Manova, a broker in Kew Gardens, said that he had encountered apartment management companies that had been planning for the possible expiration of the laws since last year.

According to Manova, some of these companies began offering monthly leases a year ago. Tenants in rent-stabilized apartments in New York City are protected until their leases run out. Most would not face rent increases or evictions until at least mid-October.

The whole situation is ``very, very bad,'' said Manova, who added that his office stopped doing business with companies only offering monthly leases.

However, Peter Asadourian, a broker in Woodside, said he had not run into incidences where landlords were trying to profit from the possible expiration of the laws. Instead, he said, landlords of rent-stabilized unitshave been trying harder than ever to rent these apartments. ``Landlords are cooperating. The fears tenants have are groundless.''