Subject: nytenants-digest V1 #1

nytenants-digest         Sunday, March 2 1997         Volume 01 : Number 001
----------------------------------------------------------------------

Date: Sat, 01 Mar 1997 11:37:16 -0500
From: TenantNet <>
Subject: Welcome to NYtenants and NYtenants-Digest

Welcome to NYTENANTS mailing list. The message we hope you received last
night came through the NYTENANTS-ANNOUNCE list, so this is the first message
to come through the NYTENANTS and NYTENANTS-DIGEST mailing lists, which are
two way discussion lists.

For some odd reason, last night's missive explaining the structure of the
three lists went out without a title (the original did have a title). We're
not sure why, but this stuff is tricky and we're watching it closely.

We have some messages that people have already sent in, so we'll get the
ball rolling and we will probably induce a digest some time today by adding
enough material to trigger the digest mechanism.

There might be some confusion on all this. If you receive this (and last
night's message) that means you are already on the list and there's nothing
you need to do to re-subscribe. If you want off the list, then send an
unsubscribe message as outlined in the Introduction file (send a message to
 and in the body of the message put:

    "unsubscribe nytenants-digest" or "unsubscribe nytenants-announce",
     or both on separate lines.

To reply to this or other messages, send your list submissions to:

     nytenants@list.tenant.net

So, tell us your horror stories, add your two cents, and have fun

  -- TenantNet
- -----------------------------------------------------------------------
The Tenant Network for Residential Tenants
  TenantNet:              http://tenant.net
  NYTenants Interactive:  http://nytenant.net
  NYTenants Express:      http://members.aol.com/nytenant
  email:
  NYtenants Discussion List: email to  and in
  the body of the message put "subscribe nytenants".
Information from TenantNet is from experienced non-attorney tenant
activists and is not considered legal advice.


------------------------------

Date: Wed, 26 Feb 1997 19:18:25 EST
From: g1088cazca@umbsky.cc.umb.edu
Subject: Housing Courts Mediation

I am making a research on Housing Courts mediation. Can anyone give me some
feedback on their experience in mediation at the Courts? Ideas to garantee
parties rights? My e-mail is: G1088cazca@umbsky.cc.umb.edu. Thanks, Camilo
Azcarate University of Massachusetts.

------------------------------

Date: Mon, 24 Feb 1997 15:03:04 -0500 (EST)
From: UNHS@aol.com
Subject: Mayor Slashes Housing Revitalization efforts in Utica New York

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

February 24, 1997
Contact:  Bernard Morosco, Executive Director     (315) 724-4197

Proposed City Budget Slashes Efforts to Revitalize Our Community
and Provide Affordable Housing in Utica

  "We must dedicate ourselves to humanity and the life of our city."
    --Mayor Edward Hanna, Budget Cover letter, February 19, 1997

Unfortunately, many Uticans who are finding it more and more difficult to
call Utica home because they cannot find decent and affordable housing may be
left in the cold.

New York State has the least affordable housing in the nation. According to a
report by the National Low Income Housing Coalition. The 1990 Census
indicated that Utica's population decreased by 7,000 persons between 1980 and
1990 which makes the affordablilty issue much worse. The 1995-96 City of
Utica Consolidated Plan's number one Goal was to Provide Decent and
Affordable Housing for the Utica of the 21st century.

The budget proposal calls for the total elimination of funding to Utica's ONLY
 Neighborhood Preservation Program, These programs generate income return in
the form of new tax revenues by creating homeownership opportunities.

The 120 thousand dollars saved by cutting Utica's only Neighborhood
Preservation Program will not help to provide property tax cuts to Utica
Homeowners, but may actually increase taxes in the long term.

Since 1994 Utica Neighborhood Housing Service's (NHS) Neighborhood
Preservation Program has invested $240,000 of Community Development Block
Grant funds in New Homeownership, 1st Time Homebuyers Programs, Mortgage
Default Intervention, Neighborhood Appearance and Crime Prevention.

NHS has created 115 new Utica homeowners and prevented 30 Utica families from
losing their home due to foreclosure. According to the latest statistics
available from local assessment offices the average homeowner in this area
pays approximately $1,500.00 annually in taxes to city, county and school
districts. That amounts to 217 thousand dollars annually or over 6 million
dollars over the life of a standard 30 year mortgage. That a great return on
a $240,000 investment.

This city must continue its committment to provide Decent and Affordable
Housing all its citizens by investing in programs like the Neighborhood
Preservation Program through Utica Neighborhood Housing Service and restoring
the NHS Neighborhood Preservation Program Budget.

------------------------------

Date: Sat, 01 Mar 1997 16:26:52 -0500
From: TenantNet <>
Subject: N.Y.C. Appeals Street Artist case to U.S. Supreme Court

Note: this message is not really tenant oriented, but is telling
about what is going on in NYC these days.
Forwarded message ----------
Date: Wed, 26 Feb 1997 01:57:06 -0500 (EST)
From: ARTISTpres@aol.com
Subject: N.Y.C. Appeals Street Artist case to U.S. Supreme Court

For Immediate Release: 2/26/97
Giuliani Administration Appeals Street Artist Case
to U.S. Supreme Court

New York may be the world's art capital and a historic center for free
speech but the Giuliani Administration has zero tolerance for artists'
First Amendment rights. City attorneys filed an appeal today with the
U.S. Supreme Court seeking to reverse a Second Circuit Federal
Appeals Court ruling declaring that, "Paintings, photographs, prints
and sculptures, such as those appellants seek to display and sell in
public areas of the City...are entitled to full First Amendment
protection."

The Federal ruling had severely criticized the Giuliani Administration's
street artist arrest policy, calling it "myopic" and, "unduly restricted"
and concluded that, "The City's requirement that appellants be licensed
in order to sell their artwork in public spaces constitutes an
unconstitutional infringement of their First Amendment rights". The
City's position, as described in its legal briefs, is that visual art is
unworthy of Constitutional protection; that sidewalk art displays
encourage petty crime, litter and a diminished quality of life; and that
public displays of fine art are a serious threat to public health and
safety.

The controversial arrest policy began in 1993 due to pressure from real
estate interests led by the Fifth Avenue Association, the City's four
most powerful Business Improvement Districts, the SoHo Alliance and
City Council Member for SoHo, Kathryn Freed. On 2/28/96 Freed and
the real estate interests filed an amicus brief in Federal Court claiming,
"The sale of artwork does not involve communication of thoughts or
ideas" and warning of, "the dangers of allowing visual art full First
Amendment protection". Between 1993 and 1996 more than 400 New
York City artists were handcuffed and arrested for displaying or selling
original paintings, photographs, sculptures and limited edition prints
on the street. Not one artists' case was ever brought to trial yet the City
systematically destroyed the thousands of works of art it confiscated.

In 1994 members of A.R.T.I.S.T. (Artists' Response To Illegal State
Tactics) filed suit in Federal Court [95-9089 Lederman et al v. City of
New York] charging Mayor Giuliani and various Administration
officials with violating their First Amendment right to speech and
Fourteenth Amendment right to equal protection. To show paintings on
the street, artists were required to get a vending license which the
City's own legal briefs candidly described as, "unobtainable". At the
same time the City allowed an unlimited number of book, magazine and
baseball card vendors to sell on the street without a license or permit
of any kind, based on First Amendment freedom.

A.R.T.I.S.T. president Robert Lederman, a plaintiff in the Federal suit
who has been arrested thirteen times for selling his paintings, promises
to keep showing his art on the street regardless of how the case finally
turns out. He's hoping both Freed and Giuliani can be voted out of
office this Fall. "These corrupt City officials make a public show of
supporting the cultural venues of their wealthy campaign contributors
but they neither respect nor understand artists, culture or the U.S.
Constitution", he said. "Eliminating free speech rights, destroying
works of art and arresting artists is the kind of criminally misguided
policy found in dictatorships like Iran, Nazi Germany or the People's
Republic of China. Mayor Giuliani and Council Member Freed are
attacking artists' rights in order to please the real estate interests that
put them in office. If they prevail before the Supreme Court and
eliminate constitutional protection for visual art, this nation's artistic
community will be plunged into a medieval age of fear, censorship and
government repression."

For detailed information on the street artist Federal lawsuit or
A.R.T.I.S.T. visit the A.R.T.I.S.T. web page at:
http://www.openair.org/alerts/artist/nyc.html [It includes
contact #'s; a bibliography of newspaper articles; the case's rulings;
previous press releases; descriptions of arrests, etc.] or contact Robert
Lederman (718) 369-2111 or (212)  334-4327 Press kits, photos etc.
available on request.


------------------------------

Date: Sun, 02 Mar 1997 23:29:35 -0500
From: TenantNet <>
Subject: NOISE COMPLAINTS

For you publicity hounds:
>Subject: NOISE COMPLAINTS
>From: writer418@aol.com (Writer418)
>Date: 25 Feb 1997 16:12:16 GMT
>
>Are you living or coping with noise that's out of your control???
>I want to hear about it.
>TV journalist looking for people for a segment on noise..whether it be
>complaints about neighbors or co-workers or whatever. But it has to do
>with noise.
>Please e-mail me as soon as you can to JEG@cbsnews.com
>thanks

------------------------------

From: TenantNet <>
Subject: Re: ABC "Prime Time" on 2/19/97

-  If You're a Tenant, You're a Thief: ABC's John Stossel
-    Sloppy Journalism at its Best; ABC Pulls a Boner
-
What follows is the transcript of John Stossel's report on ABC
Television's "Prime Time" which aired February 19, 1997. Just
like the New York Magazine article which ran over a year ago, it's
too obvious -- we just can't prove ABC was bought. But even so,
examine the rhetoric; when a certain "big lie" (even an outrageous
and incredulous one) is repeated over and over, the reader or viewer
tends to believe it. Here ABC's whopper is that rent regulation was
a program for the poor, i.e., the "needy" when from it's inception,
it did and was meant to cover all tenants. Indeed, rent regulation
is no more a "subsidy" as purported by the landlord PR machine than
a method of insuring "affordable rents" as many ideologues would
have it. Rather, it was a broad public policy initiative to keep
the middle-class in the city and stabilize neighborhoods, small
businesses and the tax base. And little mention is made that
most of the so-called rich tenants (Mia Farrow for example) moved
out four years ago when "high income decontrol" was initiated. How
many readers noticed the newspapers the day after NY State Senator
Joe Bruno called for the "end of rent control"? Did you notice that
(especially the NY Post) ran a story on Mia Farrow and her rich
digs?

If such rich tenants are still in place, either they're paying
market rent or they have a stupid landlord. Will Stossel or his
boss at ABC Roone Arledge correct themselves when they discover
that they too (actually anyone) can get a rent stabilized
apartment if they spend a tiny bit more energy than they did
checking the facts for this story? And yes, by the way, it was
real nice for such "journalists" to not even attempt to talk
to any tenant advocates or even try to balance their reportage.

TRANSCRIPT JOHN STOSSEL'S REPORT
ON ABC TV's "PRIME TIME"
WEDNESDAY, FEB. 19, 1997
===================================
Sam Donaldson

There's nothing more infuriating to some people than believing
someone else is getting something for nothing. The reason welfare
reform is such a popular idea in the country these days. John
Stossel is here to point out that an awful lot of wealthy people
are happy beneficiaries of laws designed to help people of lesser
mean. Case in point: urban housing. And from where he stands
Stossel doesn't like the law.

Woman

Hello. Manhattan Apartments.

Woman 2

(into camera) I have called every realtor in the entire city.

Woman 3

Everything else I saw was horrible. (at computer screen) It
doesn't even have a sink.

Stossel (showing classified ads)

Finding a place to live is always tense. But in many places,
politicians have done something that makes it tougher. Normally
when you rent an apartment it costs what it costs because of
simple supply and demand.

When demand is high, investors see a chance to make a profit.
They build more housing. Then supply increases. Runs ahead of
demand. And prices back down. The result is affordable housing.
That's how it usually works.

In some 200 American cities, politicians to protect poor people
pass laws that control rent increases, laws that try to protect
us from the cruelties of the market have unintended side effects.

[photo of lady in fur coat, Central Park West building]

Look at what's happened here in the city where I live, This is
some of New York's valuable real estate. Does this look like an
area that has to be protected from market cruelties?

If you could find a 5th Avenue apartment on a floor this high
with this spectacular view, the rent would be more than $10,000 a
month. Alastair Cook has this view. Remember him from Masterpiece
Theater.

Cook (clip from Masterpiece Theater)

I'm Alastair Cook

Stossel [showing photo of Cook's building]

Cook lives in a large apartment on the top floor in this
building. But he doesn't have to pay the $10,000 a month you'd
have to pay, He pays less than a fifth that. Wouldn't you like to
pay less than a fifth of your rent or your mortgage? Cook pays
less because he scored. He was lucky enough to live in this
fashionable building at a time when politicians, to help poor
people, regulated the rents.

Williams

I think he's a thief!

Stossel

Economist Walter Williams. A thief?

Williams

Yes. He's using government to take what belongs to one person and
give it to him. That is, if there were no rent controls he would
have to pay the market price. But, he's not paying market price.

Stossel

But he's not breaking any law.

Williams

But laws don't establish morality.

Stossel

Cook didn't ask for any special breaks. The system just gives it.
Remember the Mayflower Madam? Sidney Biddle Barrows made lots
money running a brothel. She pays about half what you'd have to
pay for her apartment. Lots of politicians, rich businessmen and
celebrities benefit from rent controls meant for the poor. We
usually find out about them after they've been exposed.

[showing shots of former Mayor Ed Koch, Carly Simon, runway
model]

Supermodel Kim Alexis lived under rent protection, singer Carly
Simon and fashion designer Arnold Scassi when he put his
apartment in Architectural Digest [showing apt.], he didn't
mention he was getting a rent break meant for the needy. We've
been trying for weeks to get inside a wealthy person's rent
controlled apartment but it's virtually impossible. People just
laughed and said "no way." We can show you Mia Farrow's old rent
controlled apartment because Woody Allen shot the movie "Hannah
and Her Sisters" here [shot of Mia Farrow], The rent. A third of
what you and I would have to pay on the open market. It's bad
enough, that rent controls let insiders get special deals but the
bigger, unintended consequence of the laws is that apartments
left on the free market cost more. Newcomers pay inflated rents
because cities with rent controls tend to have less housing.

Where there's rent controls, landlords don't want to build. In
unregulated cities like Dallas and Chicago, lots of apartments
are available. In rent controlled cities like New York you have
to bribe someone to get an apartment.

Man

You can pay brokers under the table sometimes.

Woman

But, I would never do that.

Stossel [showing Bronx slums]

Finally, the most destructive unintended consequence of rent
control is that some landlords say, "If I can't raise the rent, I
won't make repairs." And they don't.

Williams

Short of aerial bombardment the best way to destroy a city is the
rent controls.

[shots of abandoned housing]

Stossel

Rent controls is a big reason many landlords abandon their
building. Just walk away from their investment. You see Acres of
it here in New York.

All this led some opinion makers to have doubts. It led some
politicians to question the wisdom of what they had done. Two
years ago, Massachusetts decided to end rent control.

Tucker

People are building housing now in Boston for the first time in
20 years.

Stossel

Author William Tucker who wrote this book about housing policy
[shot of book jacket: "The Excluded Americans"] says it turned
out that only 6% of people getting rent protection in
Massachusetts were poor. These people are now getting subsidies.

Tucker

It would be a very easy thing to subsidize all the people in any
city that need a little help in paying their rent. Instead you
impose this blanket system that ruins the housing market,
benefits all kinds of people who don't need it and then say. "Oh
there's a housing crisis."

Stossel [showing slums]

That's what we have in New York City and other places where rents
are still protected. While the privileged, the insiders, those
who know how to work the system, get to freeload. And that's how
it usually works.

Donaldson

New York City did take some steps in 1993 to decontrol luxury
apartments for tenants with incomes over $250,000 a year.

------------------------------

End of nytenants-digest V1 #1
*****************************




Subject: nytenants-digest V1 #2
nytenants-digest     Wednesday, March 19 1997    Volume 01 : Number 002
----------------------------------------------------------------------

In this issue:
    Trying the Digest
    Rent Laws
    Re: a question
    JOSEPH BRUNO'S WAR ON MIDDLE INCOME APARTMENT DWELLERS
    John Stossel letter
    My reply to Dick Wald at ABC
    An opposing Viewpoint on Rent control
    Re: Destabilization
    Luxury Deregulation: A Boon For Landlords, a Bane for Tenants
    Re: Speaker Vallone

----------------------------------------------------------------------

Date: Wed, 19 Mar 1997 04:33:37 -0500
From: TenantNet <>
Subject: Trying the Digest

We're going to try again. The Digest function of the mailing list
had a malfunction about two weeks ago and we've been tinkering
with the settings and testing it on a much smaller test list.
What you've been getting since then is a handtooled version
issued through nytenants-announce. Things appear to be OK, so
this should be the first message in Volume 1, Issue 2. With
all the messages that are sent in, the first one to cause the
accumulated messages to top 40K will cause a digest to be generated
automatically.

------------------------------

Date: Wed, 19 Mar 1997 04:50:29 -0500
From: TenantNet <>
Subject: Rent Laws

Copied to TenantNet by "HILTON OR JUNE W. SIEGEL" 
and sent to NY City Council Speaker Peter Vallone


Dear Mr. Speaker,
Because of your active opposition to the tenants of the city, the laws that
protect them from greedy landlords, harassment and arbitrary evictions, we are
going to call every business in your district to let them know that we and our
friends and neighbors, will no longer shop in their stores or eat in their
resturants.  We will make it very clear to them that you are the reason for
our boycott.  Mr. Speaker, time is running out.  Why are you commiting
political suicide?

------------------------------

Date: Wed, 19 Mar 1997 04:52:33 -0500
From: TenantNet <>
Subject: Re: a question

At 12:48 AM 3/15/97 +0000, you wrote:
>Date: Sat, 15 Mar 1997 00:48:41 +0000
>From: Amy Lisewski 
>Subject: a question
>
>hi.  great web site -very helpful. I was wondering if you might
>be able to answer two questions for me:
>1. you mention stabilized and controlled apartments. Are all
>apartments one or the other or are some neither?
>2. I have been alerted to a $650 "resigning" fee that I must
>pay to the management corp. If I want to keep my lease next year.
>I know i signed the lease with this in it, but is this truly legal?
>I hope you can offer me some information. Thanks for your help.

It gets very complicated. There are some that are neither. The
actual status can depend on many factors. For 90% of units, if
your builing was built before 1974, if it has six or more units
and is not a coop, there's a good chance it's stabilized. Only
those in occupancy since 1971 are rent controlled. The actual
status is a legal determination and many owner's are ignoring
the legal requirements.

If it's stabilized, then the $650 resigning fee is definitely illegal
and I'm not even sure if it's legal for unregulated units. That
could be characterized as a brokers fee or additional security deposit.
Sounds like a scam to me. If your building fits the above description,
I would look closer at it's actual status. Check with the Attorney
General's office as to brokers rules and we have fact sheets on that stuff.

------------------------------

Date: Tue, 18 Mar 1997 13:29:18 -0500
From: huszar@cnct.com (Robert Huszar)
Subject: JOSEPH BRUNO'S WAR ON MIDDLE INCOME APARTMENT DWELLERS

I LIKE THE IDEA OF TAKING THE FIGHT TO BRUNO.  HERE'S THE LETTER I SENT OFF
TO HIS HOME DISTRICT.  LET'S FLOOD THE COUNCIL CHAMBERS WITH MAIL.

SARATOGA SPRINGS CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
494 BROADWAY
SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. 12866

Dear Honorable Council Members,

RE: JOSEPH BRUNO'S WAR ON MIDDLE INCOME APARTMENT DWELLERS

Let's get right to the heart of the matter.  Your Representative, Joseph
Bruno, has declared war on millions of middle-income voters residing in both
New York City and New York State. Now, perhaps New York City residents can't
influence Joseph Bruno's position directly, but be advised we can influence
local economics.

We -- and I use this collective noun in the broadest sense -- are in the
process of organize a boycott of your area and its resources.  If you are
boycotted it will not only be by the millions of occupants of New York City
apartments, but also by their friends and relatives and other supporters. I,
personally, in the last 10 years, have vacationed in your area approximately
fifteen times, enjoying SPAC, the races, the hot springs and a variety of
other services.  I have come alone, I have come as a couple, and I have come
in groups of four and eight.  This year, I won't come at all  --  AND I
WON'T BE ALONE.

I urge you to reason with Joseph Bruno.  Rent Control and Rent
Stabilization Laws are vital to the well-being of millions of people. If
Joseph Bruno wants war, your economic prosperity may be one of the innocent
casualties.

Robert Huszar
A Registered Voter and Tourist

------------------------------

Date: Wed, 19 Mar 1997 05:04:49 -0500
From: alaw@cnct.com (Alan Lawrence) (by way of TenantNet <>)
Subject: John Stossel letter

I have received a reply from a top ABC network exec to my letter regarding
Stossel. It is about what was to be expected.

  Thank you for your hand delivered letter about the John Stossel report on
  rent control. I appreciate both your concern and your considerable effort in
  writing.

  In one respect, your letter strikes a good note: it is not possible, as you
  point out, in a short television report to deal with all the nuances of the
  rent control issue. In other respects, though, -- while there may be
  differences of interpretation and intent that lead to honest disagreement
  and while you feel that we did not deal with all the points you would have
  included-- our estimation is that the report does not at all support your
  conclusion that it 'lacked competent editorial control.

  Should we take up the topic again, we will keep your comments in mind.

  Sincerely,

  Richard C. Wald
  (Senior Vice President, ABC News)
  cc: Roone Aarledge

------------------------------

Date: Wed, 19 Mar 1997 05:06:46 -0500
From: alaw@cnct.com (Alan Lawrence) (by way of TenantNet <>)
Subject: My reply to Dick Wald at ABC

Dear Mr. Wald:

Your personal reply to my letter regarding the John Stossel rent regulation
report on PRIME TIME is greatly apprciated.  I fear however, that you
mistook one point of my observations that is vital to clarify.

My understanding of "competent editorial control" in the context of
broadcast news, is the insistence, fudamentally, on factual accuracy and
objectivity. Accuracy aside, I implore you to view the piece again - or read
the script - and find a single instance when a second opinion, the other
side of the question, was represented.

If Stossel's slot was opinion, as for instance, on the SUNDAY MORNING
roundtable, this correspondence would not have happened.  But his
appearance, by virtue of the PRIME TIME format, was news reporting, and I
believe, Stossel's piece should have been held to the same high standards
ABC news otherwise mandates.

The topic of regulation, and rent regulation in particular, is an important
one. I do hope you'll put a unit to work on it.

------------------------------

Date: Wed, 19 Mar 1997 05:10:42 -0500
From: Ericny100@aol.com (by way of TenantNet <>)
Subject: An opposing Viewpoint on Rent control

Rent control/stabilization is the biggest fraud ever perpertrated on New
Yorkers. It was simply a matter of cowardly politicians figuring out that
there were more tenants than landlords, which would reassure their reelection
for eternity. Isn't interesting how New York is now one of the last places in
the US with rent control?

Right now, there are thousands of multi-millionaires in Manhattan who are
rent-controlled. Its an outrage! Welfare for the rich. And very few poor
black or Hispanic tenants in Harlem or the South Bronx derive any benefit
from rent control.

If we could turn back the clock to 1947 and never have had rent controls, do
you know how many more rental apartments there would be today? Market rents
would be so much lower because the supply would be so much greater. But you
guys don't understand the market, do you?

Keep rent control for existing tenants who make under a certain income (say
$75,000) and decontrol everybody else. Let the market work. Nothing can be
worse than the existing situation.

------------------------------

Date: Wed, 19 Mar 1997 05:15:31 -0500
From: TenantNet <>
Subject: Re: Destabilization

From an anonymous tenant:
>I signed (and the landlord countersigned) a two year rent stabilized
>renewal lease prior to receiving my income certification.  For better or
worse, as
>of my receipt of the income certification, I have netted in excess of
>$250,000 for two consecutive years, and pay more than $2,000 per month, what I
>understand to be the threshold for "destabilization."  My question is,
>must the landlord wait until the expiration of my current two year, rent
>stabilized lease to 'destabilize' the apartment, or can the landlord take
action now
>to 'destabilize' it, notwithstanding the fact that I have almost two full
>years remaining on the lease/ contract.  Thanks for you anticipated response
>(whatever it may be).

You have a real problem and I advise you to see a good lawyer ASAP. What you
describe is exactly the scenario for "high income" decontrol in mid-lease. And,
in all honesty, this is why high income tenants need to get "into the streets"
to turn the tide against the erosion of tenant protections. The landlord PR
machine has the media and politicans buying into the notion that rent regulation
is for the "needy" and therefore why are tenants protecting the rich tenants.
It's a compelling argument, except it's not true. I am attaching an article
from the NY Law Journal* that will give you an overview of your situation.
If you're looking for a good tenant attorney, the author of the article
is well-versed on this issue.

* reproduced later in the Digest

------------------------------

Date: Wed, 19 Mar 1997 05:21:50 -0500
From: TenantNet <>
Subject: Luxury Deregulation: A Boon For Landlords, a Bane for Tenants

Note: The following article is a good overview of the issues surrounding
High Income and High Rent Vacancy Decontrol

New York Law Journal
March 11, 1996
Luxury Deregulation: A Boon
For Landlords, a Bane for Tenants

BY SAMUEL J. HIMMELSTEIN

RENT REGULATION protects from groundless eviction and
excessive rent increases approximately 1.1 million households
in New York City, and close to 60,000 households in
Westchester, Nassau, Rockland and other upstate counties.

In 1993, the State Legislature passed the Rent Regulation
Reform Act of 1993 (RRRA); in 1994, the New York City Council
enacted Local Law Number 4. Both of these statutes, for the
first time, subjected apartments to deregulation based solely
on the monthly rent and the income level of the tenant.

Deregulation takes two forms: (1) vacancy deregulation,
whereby apartments renting for $2,000 per month or more
became deregulated upon a vacancy; and (2) deregulation of
occupied apartments where the rent exceeds $2,000 and the
annual income of the tenant exceeds $250,000.

Commonly known as "luxury deregulation," these measures were
opposed by tenant advocates as an unnecessary erosion of rent
protections, and were hailed by landlord representatives as
the beginning of a return to an unregulated rental market.
Prior to the enactment of these laws, all regulated
apartments, regardless of rental or income level of the
tenants, were treated equally for purposes of rent and
eviction protection.

Vacancy Deregulation

For housing accommodations outside of New York City and
subject to the Emergency Tenant Protection Act (ETPA) or the
New York State Rent Control Law (SRCL), an apartment
qualifies for deregulation upon a vacancy if the legal
registered or maximum rent was $2,000 or more per month at
any time between July 7 1993, and Oct. 1, 1993, and was or
became vacant on or after July 7 1993.

For housing accommodations in New York City subject to the
Rent Stabilization Law (RSL) or the New York City Rent
Control Law (CRCL), the statute is much more generous to
owners. Under the city law, the July 7, 1993 to Oct. 1, 1993
window is eliminated; the apartment is eligible for
deregulation any time that the rent reaches $2,000 per month,
provided the apartment was or becomes vacant on or after
April 1, 1994 (prior to April 1994, New York City apartments
were subject to deregulation pursuant to the state statute).

The lack of a cutoff date in the city law is the crucial
distinguishing feature between the two pieces of legislation.
Since the apartment is subject to deregulation simply by
virtue of a combination of a vacancy and a $2,000 monthly
rent, New York City landlords again have tremendous incentive
to obtain vacancies, as in the period of the cooperative
conversion boom of the 1980s.

The RRRA also added provisions to the statutes which allowed
deregulation of housing accommodations occupied by "high
income" tenants. Local Law 4 amended the New York City Rent
Stabilization and Rent Control Law similarly. Pursuant to the
RRRA and Local Law 4, deregulation occurs under the following
conditions.

For housing accommodations outside of New York City, the
legal regulated or maximum rent of the housing accommodation
must have been $2,000 or more per month on Oct. 1, 1993,
neither earlier nor later. For New York City housing
accommodations, the legal regulated or maximum rent must have
been $2,000 or more per month as of Oct. 1, 1993, or be such
amount on or after April 1, 1994. In both circumstances, the
housing accommodation must be occupied by a tenant who had a
total annual income in excess of $250,000 per year In each of
the two calendar years preceding the year in which an owner
serves the tenant with an Income Certification Form (ICF).

Annual Income is defined as the Federal adjusted gross
income, as reported on the New York State Income tax-return,
and total annual income is defined as the sum of the annual
incomes of all persons named as tenants or co-tenants on the
lease who occupy the housing accommodation, plus all other
persons who occupy the housing accommodation on an other than
temporary. basis.

In 1993, only 1 percent of all regulated apartments rented
for more than $2,000 per month. There are no statistics on
how many apartments are close to the $2,000 number, but
owners now have an added incentive to raise the rent to this
level. One method to increase the rent of a vacant apartment
is for the landlord to claim that improvements were made in
the apartment and to add a part of the costs to the rent. The
RRRA legislates that 1/40th of the cost improvements may be
added to the base rent.

Groups who monitor rental changes, like the Community
Training and Resource Center (CTRC), predict that the
combination of apartments now renting in the $1,000-$2,000
range, and the ability to raise rents substantially through
such improvement pass-alongs, will, within 10 years, result
in statistically significant deregulation.

A housing accommodation found by the Division of Housing and
Community Renewal (DHCR) to have become vacant due to an
owner's harassment will not be deregulated. In addition where
a member of the household has acquired succession rights
under DHCR regulations, the housing accommodation will not be
considered as having become vacant. Further. the deregulation
provisions do not apply to housing accommodations which are
subject to rent regulation by virtue of receiving tax
benefits pursuant to sections 421-a or 489 of the Real
Property Tax Law until the expiration of the tax abatement
period.

Procedure

To commence the process of deregulating an apartment based on
the tenant's income, the owner must, on or before May 1 in
each calendar year, serve the tenant with DHCR's income
certification form (ICF). DHCR will not process an owner's
petition for high income rent deregulation under the RRRA
unless the ICF has been served on or before May 1. Further,
the ICF must be served by at least one of the methods
prescribed by the statute.

The ICF requires the tenant to list the names of the tenants
and all other persons who occupy the housing accommodation as
a primary residence on other than a temporary basis and to
identify bona fide employees of the occupants who reside in
the housing accommodation in connection with such employment,
as well as bona fide subtenants who are in occupancy pursuant
to the provisions of section 226-b of the Real Property Law.

The ICF also requires a certification by the tenant as to
whether the total annual income of the tenants and occupants
exceeded $250,000 in each of the two preceding calendar
years. The ICF informs the tenant that there is protection
against harassment, that disclosure of the income information
is limited to the matters required on the ICF, and that the
tenant must complete and return the form only if the monthly
rent was $2,000 or more on the applicable dates.

The completed ICF must be returned to the owner within 30
days of service if the tenant concedes that the total annual
income exceeded $250,000 in each of the two preceding
calendar years, the owner may apply to DHCR for high-income
rent deregulation by filing a "petition by owner for high
income rent deregulation" (OPD), together with the ICF, by
June 30 of the year in which the ICF was served upon the
tenant.

The OPD must be filed in person or by mail. An OPD filed by
mail must be postmarked no later than June 30. Within 30 days
after the filing, DHCR is required to issue a deregulation
order, effective at the expiration of the existing lease for
rent-stabilized tenants, or effective June 1 of the following
year for rent-controlled tenants.

To be eligible for high-rent, high-income deregulation, a New
York City housing accommodation must continuously have a
legal regulated or maximum rent of $2,000 or more per month
from the owner's service of the ICF upon the tenant to the
issuance of an order deregulating the housing accommodation.

If the tenant fails to return the completed ICF to the owner,
or if the owner disputes the information supplied by the
tenant on the ICF, the owner may, by June 30 of the calendar
year, request that DHCR verify, through the New York State
Department of Taxation and Finance, whether the total annual
household income exceeded $250,000 for each of the two
preceding calendar years.

DHCR will, within 20 days of receipt of the owner's request,
ask for necessary identifying information from the tenant,
giving the tenant 60 days to respond and advising the tenant
that failure to respond will result in deregulation.

If the tenant fails to provide the requested information,
DHCR will issue by Dec. 1 of such year, an order providing
that the housing accommodation will be deregulated effective
upon the expiration of the existing lease for rent-stabilized
tenants, and on March 1 of the following year for rent-
controlled tenants.

Approximately 2,000 applications for income verification were
sent to tenants by the DHCR in 1995.

If the Department of Taxation and Finance states that the
total annual household income exceeded $250,000 in each of
the two preceding calendar years, the owner and tenant are
notified by the DHCR by Nov. 15 and given 30 days to comment.
Within 45 days after the expiration of the comment period,
where the facts warrant, DHCR Is required to issue an order
of deregulation, effective upon expiration of the existing
lease for rent-stabilized tenants and on March 1 of the
following year for tenancies subject to rent control.

If the Department of Taxation and Finance determines that the
income threshold has not been met or cannot be ascertained;
DHCR will deny the owner's petition for deregulation. There
are no provisions in the statute for any further proceedings
or hearings at the lower level of the agency in such event.
Orders granting or denying deregulation are subject to
petitions for administrative review (PAR), which must be
filed with the DHCR within 35 days after the date of issuance
of the order. A PAR is an internal administrative appeal to
the DHCR Commissioner. A party aggrieved by a PAR order may
seek judicial review by filing a proceeding in the Supreme
Court under Article 78 of the Civil Practice Law and Rules.

The only information exchanged in the process of income
verification among the owner, tenant, DHCR and the Department
of Taxation and Finance is whether the income threshold has
been met. Specific income figures will not be disclosed or
exchanged. The provisions of the State Freedom of Information
Law (FOIL), which might otherwise allow certain information
to be disclosed, do not apply to any income information
obtained by the DHCR while processing the owner's petition.

Subsequent to the enactment of the RRRA and Local Law 4, DHCR
issued Operational Bulletin 94-1, dated Jan. 3, 1994. This
bulletin summarizes the substantive provisions and procedural
mechanisms of the deregulation statutes, and poses several
hypothetical cases and their resolution.

In December 1995, DHCR issued Operational Bulletin 95-3,
which replaced Operational Bulletin 94-1. This bulletin
contains several controversial, substantive changes. It
specifically permits owners to use individual apartment
improvements to raise the rent to the threshold level.

The definition of total annual income includes, for rent-
stabilized units, all tenants, regardless of whether the
apartment is occupied as their primary residence. For rent-
controlled units, this definition is restricted to persons
who occupy the accommodation as their primary residence.

Finally, this bulletin specifically permits owners of rent-
stabilized units, where the lease renewal window period
occurs while an OPD is pending, to annex a rider to the
renewal offer permitting cancellation of the lease 60 days
after issuance of a deregulation order. This provision may
violate the Rent Stabilization Law and Code, which strictly
limit the grounds for non-renewal of leases, and contradicts
at least one court decision in this area (see discussion of
court decisions below).

Additionally, on Oct. 13, 1995, the DHCR issued an opinion
letter in response to a question submitted by an owner's
attorney. In the letter, DHCR stated that when the owner uses
individual apartment improvements (1/40th of the cost of
qualified improvements) to increase the monthly rent of a
vacant apartment above the $2,000 threshold, the apartment
would be deregulated upon occupancy by the subsequent tenant.

Apparently unresolved is how DHCR and the courts will react
to tenants who challenge the $2,000 rental, claiming that the
improvements relied upon by the owner were either not
performed or did not qualify as improvements.

Court Decisions

Since this legislation is relatively new and the issues in
deregulation are often, though not always, straightforward,
few court decisions have been reported.

In Matter of Classic Residences, Inc., NYLJ, July 1, 1994, p.
31, col. 1 (Sup. Ct. N.Y. Co.), the tenant had initially
conceded on the ICF that her household income exceeded the
$250,000 threshold. She subsequently filed a corrected
certification, stating that her income was below $250,000 and
contesting the landlord's claim. The DHCR then directed the
landlord to file another petition for deregulation. The owner
filed an Article 78 proceeding, seeking an order directing
the DHCR to deregulate the apartment, and to toll the "window
period" of 120-150 days, during which landlord must either
renew a tenant's lease or refuse to renew and provide the
tenant with a legally cognizable reason for non-renewal.

The court, by Justice Joan B. Lobis denied the landlord's
petition, stating that the DHCR had not failed to perform a
mandatory duty, and that the landlord had not demonstrated a
clear right to relief. The court ruled that the landlord's
remedy was to file an Article 78 proceeding after the agency
had completed its investigation and had rendered its decision
on the landlord's petition for deregulation.

The court further denied the landlord's claim for preliminary
injunctive relief, finding that it had failed to demonstrate
a likelihood of success on the merits, and that its alleged
irreparable harm -- loss of income -- was speculative.

On appeal, the First Department modified and affirmed Justice
Lobis's order. In Classic Residences Inc. v. New York State
Division of Housing and Community Renewal, --AD2d--, 622
NYS2d 693 (1st Dept. 1995), the court held that since the
RRRA neither authorizes nor prohibits a tenant's amendment or
correction of the income certification form, no such
prohibition would be implied. The court also held that since
the tenant had, in her amended ICF, contested that her income
exceeded the threshold level, mandamus did not lie and the
DHCR was not required to issue an order.

In an unreported decision, Rocky 116 L.L.C. v. Belle
Israelite, Sup. Ct. N.Y. Co., Oct. 25, 1995, Index No.
110479/95, Justice Stuart C. Cohen held that where an order
of deregulation was issued after the lease renewal period of
120-150 days and beyond the deadline by which the DHCR was
required to issue an order, the landlord was nonetheless
bound through the end of the term of the renewal lease. The
court's reasoning was grounded in sections 2523.5(c) and
2524.4 of the Rent Stabilization Code, which strictly limit
the grounds for refusal to renew leases, and ensure that a
tenant's rights cannot be abridged where a landlord
wrongfully fails to offer a renewal lease.

As more petitions are filed and issues develop, it is likely
that more court decisions will follow. Since precedent is
scant, practitioners in this area have the opportunity to
"create" the law.

Other Issues

Constitutional challenges to the legislation based upon equal
protection and privacy arguments have been contemplated by
tenant advocates. As the city legislation expands the
circumstances in which an apartment can become deregulated,
it might be vulnerable to a claim that it is ultra vires more
restrictive than the state statute. In addition, tenants now
have added incentive to file challenges to their rent level,
either in court or at the DHCR (the courts and the agency
generally have concurrent jurisdiction over most overcharge
claims).

One strategy employed by tenant attorneys is to file a
challenge, either a rent overcharge complaint in court or at
the DHCR, or a reduction of services complaint with the DHCR,
and request a stay of the owner's petition for deregulation
pending resolution of the overcharge complaint. Since
overcharge complaints often take five years to resolve at the
lower level of the DHCR, owners' attorneys will undoubtedly
request a denial of the stay or an expeditious resolution of
the rent challenge. Since both overcharge and reduction of
services complaints could result in a reduction of the legal
rent below $2,000, logic dictates that such complaints be
resolved prior to processing the deregulation petition. In
addition, challenges may be made where rents include
individual vacancy improvement rent increases which have
brought the monthly rent to the $2,000 level. The rationale
for allowing such increases is to permit an owner to recoup,
within a regulated system, expenses incurred in making
improvements.

Under the RRRA and Local Law No. 4, owners may charge a
market rent after reaching the threshold level. Tenants may
challenge an owner's use of this benefit, which was intended
as a trade-off for continued restrictions, as a means to
escape the restrictions entirely.

Non-purchasing rent-regulated tenants who reside in
apartments which have been converted to cooperative or
condominium ownership pursuant to a non-eviction plan, might,
after an order of deregulation is issued, seek protection
under section 8352-eee 2(c)(iv) (In Nassau, Westchester and
Rockland Counties) or 352-eeee 2(c)(iv) (in New York City),
of the General Business Law, which provide:

"The rental of non-purchasing tenants who reside in dwelling
units not subject to government regulation as to rentals and
continued occupancy and non-purchasing tenants who reside in
dwelling units with respect to which government regulation as
to rentals and continued occupancy is eliminated or becomes
inapplicable after the plan has been accepted for filing by
the attorney general shall not be subject to unconscionable
increases beyond ordinary rentals for comparable apartments
during the period of their occupancy. In determining
comparability, consideration shall be given to such factors
as building services, level of maintenance and operating
expenses."

Negotiated Settlements

In many cases, particularly those in which the tenant can
present no defenses to the owner's petition, leases can often
be negotiated which afford the tenants continued occupancy in
exchange for a higher rent and an agreement not to contest
deregulation. In such instances the tenancy, although no
longer protected by rent stabilization or rent control, will
continue to be protected by various provisions of the Real
Property Law (the warranty of habitability, the right to
sublet, the right to a roommate, the prohibition against
retaliation) and other statutes and codes relating to housing
standards and services.

*****
Samuel J. Himmelstein is a partner at Himmelstein, McConnell
& Gribben in Manhattan. The firm represents tenants, tenant
associations, cooperative boards and shareholders.

------------------------------

Date: Wed, 19 Mar 1997 05:30:42 -0500
From: Celesti Colds Fechter  (by way of TenantNet <>)
Subject: Re: Speaker Vallone

Skyline/Carlyle Towers Tenants Association
SERVING THE NEEDS OF MORE THAN 1,400 FAMILIES IN THE HEART OF FLUSHING
                                       Ronald Fechter
                                        Flushing, New York 11355
                                        March 17, 1997

Honorable Peter F. Vallone
Speaker, City Council of New York
22-45 31st Street
Astoria, N.Y. 11105

Dear Mr. Vallone:

I am writing to express my disappointment with what I understand to be your
mischaracterization of the true position taken by the City Council regarding
the important question of rent deregulation in New York City.  In your
letter of January 9, 1997 written to my wife Celesti, you stated the
following (referring to the City Council's action on rent regulations in
1994): "Except for the deregulation of luxury apartments renting for $2000
or more to tenants whose incomes exceed $250,000, the regulations remained
fully in effect."  You also state that "we are committed to protecting the
tenants of this City."

What you failed to mention is that all vacant apartments renting for $2000
or more are being automatically decontrolled because of the so-called
"luxury" decontrol provisions of Local Law No. 4.  While you may contend
that middle income tenants are fully protected because their incomes come
nowhere near the $250,000 level, I would very much appreciate your answering
the following question:  What happens when a family decides to move to a new
apartment which became deregulated because its rent reached $2000?  Should
this family no longer be entitled to a lease renewal, or to redress for
decreased services, or protection from harassment?  Or don't you think that
middle income people in this city today are paying rents on the order of
$2000?

As a matter of fact, my wife and I are currently paying a rent that is now
just below $1400 per month, and we know of other residents in the Skyline
Towers (our complex) paying more than we are.  Furthermore, as rents
continue to rise (by RGBO mandated percentages), the $2000 threshhold
remains fixed -- it is not inflation adjusted.  This means that more and more
apartments will reach the $2000 level as time goes on.  But landlords don't
even have to wait for automatic rent increases to bring about the inevitable
deregulation of vacant apartments.  They can (and do) raise rents
dramatically, when apartments become vacant, by claiming that they have made
"improvements".  Since such claims go virtually unmonitored by DHCR, what's
to stop a landlord from raising the rent on a vacant apartment to $2000,
thereby deregulating it, and then deciding, if the market will not bear a
$2000 rent, to simply lower the rent down to whatever level he pleases -- for
example, to $1400 or $1500?  If my wife and I wish to move into such a
deregulated apartment, at a rent not much higher than we are currently
paying, then we have to face the prospect of having absolutely no
protections whatsoever.

We are also concerned about the fact that Local Law No. 4 introduced the
concept of a means test into the law.  Now landlords are applying relentless
pressure to lower the $250,000 threshold down to a level that will affect
the middle class.  Recently, Minority Leader Ognibene introduced a proposal
before the City Council which would lower the income threshhold for
deregulation down to $100,000.  A middle class family with both parents
working, and perhaps one or two children earning summer income, can easily
reach this threshhold for total family income.  In light of this proposal,
and similar proposals now being circulated in Albany (which include also
lowering the rent threshhold for deregulation down
from $2000 to $1500), would you at least acknowledge that the maximum income
and rent threshold provisions of Local Law No. 4 may have opened up a
Pandora's Box that could spell the end for rent regulations in the coming
years?

What is your position on Ognibene's proposal?  Do you think that anyone
would have dared to make such a proposal had Local Law No. 4 not established
a precedent whereby qualification for the protection of rent regulations
would be based on one's income level?

If, as you say, you are truly committed to protecting the millions of
tenants (including middle class tenants) of this city, what are you planning
to do now to help reverse the direction of the current statewide assault on
tenant protections?

Sincerely,
Ronald Fechter
------------------------------

End of nytenants-digest V1 #2
*****************************


 

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