Letters to the Editor, June 4

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Garodnick: How rent laws in current state have been used to raise rents in ST/PCV

The following is an open letter to Governor Andrew Cuomo from Council Member Dan Garodnick.

Dear Governor Cuomo:

Many New Yorker City residents are looking to you to help us strengthen the rent laws in the coming weeks. While there are many ways in which these laws need revision, I wanted to point out two areas of the law that have been particularly destructive within Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village (ST/PCV) – a community of 25,000 renters, all rent-stabilized, which make up a portion of my Council District.

 The areas of particular concern have been: vacancy decontrol, preferential rents, and Major Capital Improvements (MCIs).

 Vacancy Decontrol: Vacancy decontrol creates some of the most perverse incentives that lay within our rent laws, and it has already done a great deal of damage in ST/PCV.  When the law allows a landlord to jack up rents upon vacancy, there is a very strong push for them to achieve a vacancy – almost at any cost.  In the case of ST/PCV, the property was sold in 2006 to an owner whose entire business plan only penciled out if they pushed rent-stabilized tenants out of their homes, quickly. The result was that tenants were pursued ruthlessly on a variety of bases to get them to leave.

Senate bill S1167 and Assembly bill A1585 would end vacancy decontrol, and would re-regulate many of the units that were deregulated over the last 15 years. I hope you will support it.

Preferential rents: Because of the “Roberts v. Tishman Speyer” case, many tenants in ST/PCV have legal rent-stabilized rents that are thousands of dollars more than the market rate rents for their apartments.  These tenants are paying market rates, but well below what the law allows. The result is that on lease renewal, the landlord is hitting tenants with increases of $250, $500 or even up to $700 per month. Many tenants find themselves suddenly, and without any ability to plan, unable to afford these increases.

There are smart proposals that would give much more certainty to tenants in this position, such as S1775/A5473, which would only allow Rent Guidelines Board (RGB) increases on preferential rents, and keep them from rising to the legal rent until the end of the current occupant’s tenancy.

MCI Reform: I also hope you will support efforts to reform MCIs. MCIs were created so that landlords would have an incentive to improve the property, and to have the ability to recoup their investment. The law today allows them to add the cost of the MCI onto tenants’ rents, and leave it there forever – and long after the investment has been paid for in full by the tenants. S1493/A5373 would make these MCI’s temporary, ensuring that owners are compensated for investing in their properties, but in a way that fair to tenants.

These are only three ways in which our rent laws are broken. I have, however, seen how vacancy decontrol, preferential rents without protections, and MCI loopholes have burdened my own district, and I am certain that your efforts to reform those laws would make a difference. Thank you for your attention to this matter.


Daniel R. Garodnick

Advice for when traveling abroad

I had not traveled outside the continental United States for many years and consequently I had forgotten the ways of tipping for service when dining out in a foreign country.

I was having such a wonderful time at a family gathering in Aruba that I neglected to look at the bill carefully. Later on I discovered that I had a mandatory tip of 18 percent on the bill and that I had tipped 20 percent on top of that. I usually tip 20 percent in NYC. After my grievous error, I discovered the 18 percent information in very fine print on the menu.

My wonderful family evening was somewhat marred. Be careful of your tipping whilst abroad.

Bon voyage.

Mary O’Hanlon, ST

Another bright idea

Re: “From laundry rooms to noisy neighbors,” T&V, April 30

Dear Town & Village,

Regardless of whatever wonderful reasons CWCapital gives for putting up LED lighting in ST/PCV’s stairwells, they’re just excuses for sticking the residents with another MCI.

Sorry to you all.

Richard Luksin,
Minneapolis, MN


6 thoughts on “Letters to the Editor, June 4

  1. Re : Comment by Mr. Richard Luksin

    Of course. And just talking to PCV/ST residents everything here was far better before these two developments went upscale.

    It’s great that T&V has a correspondent in Minneapolis who used to live here and now offers his thoughtful comments via the blog..

    • I wouldn’t call being turned into a nasty, noisy college dorm which is plastered with vomit and dog excrement going “upscale.”

      I also question the legality of rent stabilized housing stock being turned into dorms, and there is the question of three or more unrelated people living in one unit. But when the garbage who runs this city is owned by REBNY, what ya gonna do?

  2. Correction: owned by REBNY and NYU, which I see as an evil institution rather than an institution of academic excellence. Too bad it became so thoroughly corrupted by Ken Langone. But, I guess if you can buy your name being added to a hospital, you can buy anything and anybody. I used to think Donald Trump was the only one tacky enough to put his name all over buildings! Btw, in the UK the word “trump” is a slang word for noisily passing gas. Seems appropriate.


      (1) TRUMPIZE: (verb) to behave in a vulgar manner; to crave attention and
      self aggrandizement (whether positive or negative) by any means
      necessary; the use of deceased animals on the top of one’s head to
      obscure baldness.**

      (2) NYUING: (verb) to usurp large parts of a city from original owners; to take a
      mediocre university and attempt to falsely raise its status and perceived
      importance by limitless expansion and continuing raising its tuition fees.**

      **Note: The words above have many other meanings. See published version of
      the OCD for further clarifications and synonyms.

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