Albany passes strongest rent regulations ever

Tenants in Albany on Friday (Photos courtesy of Housing Justice for All)

By Sabina Mollot

On Friday, the governor signed the most tenant-friendly package of rent regulations the state has ever seen, including the repeal of vacancy and high-income deregulation, the end of vacancy bonuses and much stricter limitations on major capital improvement (MCI) and individual apartment improvement (IAI) rent increases.

As for what this means for tenants, most notably there will be adjustments to stabilized tenants’ rent, said Assembly Member Harvey Epstein. MCIs, which previously could be no higher than six percent of a tenant’s rent, will now be no higher than two percent. They will also be eliminated after 30 years instead of being paid in perpetuity. If tenants have signed a lease with a preferential rent, that amount, when the lease is renewed, will now only be allowed to climb as high as the rent increase voted on by the Rent Guidelines Board. Previously it could have gone as high as the maximum legal rent (often a difference of hundreds of dollars).

Additionally, while this doesn’t impact current tenants, tenants moving into an apartment won’t have nearly as much to pay in IAIs, which will now be limited to $15,000 each, and only three units will be eligible over a 15-year period. The increase would also last 30 years instead of remaining permanent. Tenant blacklists will also disappear and there will also be more protections available for tenants fighting an eviction. Additionally, any conversions to co-ops or condos must be non-eviction plans. Tenants who want to file overcharge complaints will now have longer to do so, six years instead of four.

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Candidate for Civil Court judge says she’d encourage mediation

Lynne Fischman-Uniman (center) with Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney and Assembly Member Dan Quart, who are supporting her campaign (Photo courtesy of Lynne Fischman-Uniman)

By Sabina Mollot

On June 25, there will be a Democratic primary in New York City, albeit a quiet one in certain districts, mainly for delegates for judicial convention, county committee members and district leader positions. But in the fourth Municipal Court district — the area comprised of Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village, Gramercy, Kips Bay and Murray Hill — there is a race for Civil Court judge with two serious candidates.

One is West Midtown resident Grace Park, an attorney with the Legal Aid Society, and the other is Upper East Sider Lynne Fischman-Uniman, who also practices law, in her case for nearly 40 years. Unlike other races, judicial candidates don’t need to live in the districts they’re running in and it’s quite possible that if elected, they will end up being assigned outside the area or even the borough, depending on where the demand for judges is.

Civil Court judges decide cases involving small claims of up to $25,000 and some housing cases, though sometimes they’re assigned at first to Family Court or Criminal Court.

As for why New Yorkers should care about a local race for the bench, Fischman-Uniman’s elevator pitch to voters has been that along with her experience in law, including teaching it at New York Law School, she is devoted to the betterment of the court process wherever possible.

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Million Millimeter March celebrates one million visitors to math museum

One of the points along the march through Flatiron (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

The National Museum of Mathematics just north of Madison Square Park (a.k.a. MoMath) celebrated its millionth visitor in one of the mathiest ways possible: with a million-millimeter march. The March began in front of the museum on East 26th Street on 6/6 (June 6) at 6 p.m. in honor of the institution reaching visitor number 10 to the 6th power (also known as one million).

Translated into a more recognizable measure of distance, the March was 0.62 miles throughout the Flatiron District, starting at the museum and heading south to landmarks throughout the neighborhood, including Madison Square Park and the Flatiron building, with signs along the way indicating how many millimeters participants had traveled up to that point.

The march went down Fifth Avenue towards the Flatiron building, around the landmark and looped back up through Madison Square Park, then ended back at the museum on 26th Street.

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