By Sabina Mollot
Golub notices, or notices of lease nonrenewal over primary residence challenges, had, for a couple of years, become synonymous with the Tishman Speyer era of Stuyvesant Town.
It was only when tenants won the “Roberts v. Tishman Speyer” lawsuit, which determined that apartments had been illegally deregulated, that the wave of primary residence challenges finally ceased.
Therefore, Susan Steinberg, president of the ST-PCV Tenants Association, was surprised to hear of seven golub notices being sent to residents in the past couple of weeks.
On Monday, the Tenants Association sent an email alert to neighbors to mention that there had been an uptick in challenges and asked tenants to contact the TA if they believed they’ve received one in error.
Tenants were warned they may be challenged for reasons such as having another address or out-of-state car or voter registrations, tax payments or utility bills. Keycards could also be used to track whether tenants are in their homes for the minimum amount of days (183) to have the units be considered their primary residences.
This week, Steinberg noted that another reason a person can get one erroneously if he or she has the same name as a family member. “It causes confusion,” she said. Keycard activity trails may also be misleading, if a person’s homebound.
Another issue, which can put a resident “on shaky footing” legally, said Steinberg, is being an occupant, rather than tenants of record.
“Occupants don’t have a lot of rights,” she said. “You have to be a primary lease holder.”
However, Steinberg added that she doesn’t believe the latest golub notices to be sent out are cases of “CWCapital or CompassRock being the Evil Empire. They’re not doing this so they can get rid of stabilized tenants,” she said. Instead, she suspects it’s an attempt to sniff out illegal activity like short-term rentals. “They could be concerned about Airbnb; is the person just using it as a rental property?”
Still, in any challenge, the onus is on the recipient to prove his or her status as a law-abiding stabilized tenant, and sometimes this means having to hire an attorney. During the Tishman years, notices were issued to over 1,000 households.
“Sometimes when you cast a wide net, it brings in the innocent along with the guilty,” said Steinberg.
Of the seven people who’ve been served so far, two are seniors, and at least four of the cases involve residents in unrenovated units.
The TA, in its email, noted that a golub notice must be served 90 to 150 days before the expiration date of the recipient’s current lease and once the served tenant’s lease has expired, the landlord can start a summary eviction proceeding.
The Tenants Association can be reached via its message center at (866) 290-9036 or online at stpcvta.org.
A spokesperson for CWCapital did not respond to a request for comment.
UPDATE: Brian Moriarty, a spokesperson for CWCapital, said in an official statement on Thursday that each challenge was “carefully reviewed” before being issued.
“All Golub notices are carefully reviewed before being sent to ensure we only send notices when a unit is being used improperly. We make every effort to follow the spirit of the law as well as its letter and, accordingly, will consider any exceptional life circumstances that may be relevant to the specific situation. Residents who receive a notice are encouraged to respond directly to PCVST’s legal department to discuss the facts. ”