By Sabina Mollot
Recently, a Stuyvesant Town resident, who often has a friend from out of town stay with him, learned that guest key-card status for the woman would be rejected — that is, unless she agreed to register with the owner as an occupant. However, the resident, who didn’t want his name published, told Town & Village she doesn’t live in the apartment, and therefore has so far refused to register as an occupant. Along with friendship, she also fills an occasional role of caretaker for some of his health issues, he said. Management, meanwhile, said the tenant, hasn’t budged and has refused to issue a guest card.
A spokesperson for CWCapital did not respond to a comment on this issue, but Council Member Dan Garodnick told Town & Village that he has heard from “a handful” of residents who said CW has become more selective about issuing guest cards lately. Garodnick said this practice seems to run contrary to the key-card policy.
“The rule is that there is no limit to the number of key-cards a tenant can get,” said Garodnick. “Guests should be provided with permanent key-cards and guests include friends who come to visit on a regular basis or as needed to care for a tenant or their apartment. That’s the rule.”
After a tenant acquires four guest cards, additional ones come with a fee of eight dollars, but, stressed Garodnick, “you can get an unlimited number.”
He believes management’s reason for the recent denials has to do with weeding out illegal, short-term rental activity.
“My impression is that they’re trying to deal with the Airbnb problem in our community, but that doesn’t mean they can act in a way that’s inconsistent with the DHCR (Division of Housing and Community Renewal) order. That’s what management should follow and those are the rules governing tenants.”
Garodnick recommended that any tenant who gets denied ask for an explanation.
“The key here is that people should not just accept a denial if they get one. They may have rights and they need to understand the law.”
Short-term rentals or other illegal behavior on the part of some tenants was also responsible for a recent change in policy in which management has been charging residents $150 for adding occupants to the apartment. Last spring, Garodnick and the Tenants Association had argued that this was inconsistent with the Real Property Law, but recently, after consulting with the attorneys, they are no longer disputing the legitimacy of the fee when it’s imposed on second or third occupants.
“They believe that it is a fee that can be imposed,” Garodnick said.
The $150 has been getting charged for second and third occupants, with CW having previously explained to T&V in April that this is to recoup costs that include background checks. Garodnick and the TA have also questioned, back in April, the validity of a policy in which guest keycards have been issued on a temporary, rather than permanent basis.
In a letter to the TA and Garodnick that was also sent to T&V at the time, CWCapital Managing Director Andrew MacArthur explained the changes in policy.
On the occupant charge, MacArthur said that as long as the tenant wishes to have a roommate within the limits of the law there is no charge and as far as he knew there had never been a charge. It is only when a resident wants an occupant added “in excess of the number of roommates required by the law, we do so at our sole discretion,” said MacArthur.
On the topic of guest key-cards, MacArthur said permanent guests cards are issued to close friends and family members expected to visit on a regular basis, especially if they’re needed to care for a resident.
But, he added, “We do not believe the DHCR ever intended to create a permanent guest status for anyone who ever visits PCVST.”
He went on to say if a guest needs continuous access to an apartment for more than three months, “then that guest is clearly an occupant… Restricting the duration of our visitor cards ensures that we won’t have thousands of ‘blank keys’ circulating around the city.”