Pols name and shame ‘predatory’ landlords

Council Members Dan Garodnick and Jumaane Williams with tenants at a press conference at City Hall (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

Council Members Dan Garodnick and Jumaane Williams with tenants at a press conference at City Hall (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Tenant advocate groups have a message for landlord who harass tenants: You’re being watched.

At a press conference last Thursday, the advocates and elected officials said that they have identified predatory equity landlords who tenants say have been mistreating them and forcing them to live in hazardous conditions. Councilmembers Dan Garodnick and Jumaane Williams, who formed the Coalition Against Predatory Equity last year with Councilmember Ritchie Torres from the Bronx, were at the event.

“We now have names attached to these situations so they know we’re going after them,” Williams, chair of the Council’s Housing Committee, said.

The landlords that have been singled out are Alma Realty Corp., Benedict Realty Group, Coltown Properties, Icon, SMRC Management, Steve Croman and Ved Parkash. Various tenants from buildings owned by these landlords were at the event, including residents of 444 East 13th Street, who recently filed a lawsuit against their new management company with the help of the Urban Justice Center because they have no gas or hot water and the management company has been doing construction despite a stop work order from the Department of Buildings.

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Albany extends Rent Stabilization Laws for five days

Susan Steinberg, Al Doyle, Anne Greenberg, Kirstin Aadahl and Margaret Salacan of the Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association protest outside a fundraiser for Governor Cuomo. (Photo courtesy of the ST-PCV Tenants Association)

Susan Steinberg, Al Doyle, Margaret Salacan, Anne Greenberg and Kirstin Aadahl, Margaret Salacan and a resident of the Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association protest outside a fundraiser for Governor Cuomo. (Photo courtesy of the ST-PCV Tenants Association)

By Sabina Mollot

Days after the deadline to renew the Rent Stabilization Laws, with no resolution in sight, the state legislature worked to extend the laws for another five days.

In a joint statement, Albany’s three men in a room, Governor Andrew Cuomo, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan, confirmed the governor’s signing of the bill, and claimed to be “moving in a positive direction toward a resolution.”

But rather than offer any detail, the statement then went on to tout the legislature’s passage of unrelated bills such as protections against sexual assault on college campuses and investments in infrastructure.

Heastie, however, issued a statement of his own, stressing that the Assembly wouldn’t bend on its efforts to win stronger protections for tenants.

“We have agreed on a short term extender bill with the Governor and the Senate which will allow for more time to come to a final agreement,” said Heastie. “But one thing is clear – the Assembly Majority will not compromise its principles and agree to a package that does not provide critical rent protections for the millions of New Yorkers who depend on these laws.”

The rent law legislation the Democrat-controlled Assembly hopes to pass is wildly different from the package put forth more recently by the Republican-controlled Senate. The Senate hopes to create a database in which tenants would have to verify their incomes. Tenant friendly measures are codifying the Tenant Protection Unit and imposing stiffer penalties on landlords who harass tenants. The Assembly hopes to repeal vacancy decontrol, reform preferential rents, MCIs (major capital improvements) and IAIs (individual apartment improvements) and lower vacancy bonuses.

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Tenants and owners take their case to RGB

Stuyvesant Town residents sit in the audience at the hearing. On the right is Marietta Hawkes, a 38-year resident who gave testimony. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Stuyvesant Town residents sit in the audience at the hearing. On the right is Marietta Hawkes, a 38-year resident who gave testimony. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

With the Rent Guidelines Board set to decide on the rent increases for over one million rent stabilized apartments in the city on June 24, tenants from around the city went before the board on Monday, June 8 to ask for a rent freeze or even a rollback. Numerous landlords, mainly those owning small buildings, also testified to ask for higher rents and even supplemental increases for tenants who remain in their buildings for many years. A few City Council members also chimed in to say their constituents are being priced out of their neighborhoods and in some cases harassed by landlords who want to oust them and deregulate their apartments.

The public hearing, held at CUNY’s Graduate Center on 34th Street was one of four taking place around the city. The next and final one before the vote will take place on June 18 from 5-8 p.m. at Brooklyn Borough Hall.

One of the first speakers was a senior from Stuyvesant Town named Marietta Hawkes, who, after 38 years of living in the complex, is paying 45 percent of her income in rent, including three major capital improvement (MCI) increases.

“Due to these increases, I have had to cut back on food and doctor visits,” said Hawkes. She added that other actions by owner CWCapital have had taken a toll on her heath.

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Police on lookout for armed robber of Union Square bank

Armed robbery suspect

Armed robbery suspect

Police are hunting a gunman they say robbed a bank in Union Square on Wednesday.

At around 4 p.m., the armed robber strolled into the Amalgamated Bank at 10 East 14th Street between University Place and Fifth Avenue and demanded cash, cops said. A teller complied an he then fled with the loot and a dye pack. After he escaped the bank, the dye pack exploded.

The suspect has been described as a white male, 5’7″ tall and weighing 150 pounds.

Anyone with information in regards to this incident is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 800-577-TIPS. The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers Website at http://www.nypdcrimestoppers.com or texting their tips to 274637(CRIMES) then enter TIP577.