Garodnick, TA say guest keycards should not have time limits, also question occupant fees

Council Member Dan Garodnick

Council Member Dan Garodnick

By Sabina Mollot
A Stuyvesant Town policy that limits the time guest keycards can be active to up to three months has been challenged by Council Member Dan Garodnick and the Tenants Association President John Marsh, who say it’s inconstant with a 2006 order from the state housing agency.

“According to the HCR (New York State Housing and Community Renewal) Order, keycards for guests should not have an end date,” they wrote in a letter to CWCapital Managing Director Andrew MacArthur last Wednesday.

In the letter, they also questioned a separate policy in which apartment occupants have been made to pay a $150 fee, and submit to a background check. Garodnick and Marsh said that the policy appears to violate the Real Property Law.

“It appears that charging $150, and subjecting people to background checks, functionally serve to restrict occupancy of these units to tenants of record,” they said. “Even if the background check is never used to deny an occupant, is it acting as a roommate charge, which is not permitted under the law.”
Occupants are residents who haven’t signed leases and are therefore not tenants of record.

CWCapital Mangaing Director Andrew MacArthur

CWCapital Managing Director Andrew MacArthur

However, CWCapital responded on Wednesday to say the owner strongly disagrees with Marsh and Garodnick on both points.
In CW’s response, which also came as a letter, MacArthur stated, “We are fully in compliance with the law and are acting in the best interest of Peter Cooper Village Stuyvesant Town.”

As for 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. This helps management recoup costs that include a background check, he added.

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 (HCR’s Division of Housing and Community Renewal) 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.”

The idea, he said, is to keep the community safe and prevent illegal hotels.

After seeing CWCapital’s letter, Garodnick said that he still believes the policy isn’t consistent with the HCR order.

“Their reading of the law for guests is not correct in my view,” said Garodnick. “The DHCR allows permanent, unrestricted keycards for families and friends who visit on a regular basis. Guest is defined as family members and friends who can be expected to visit on a regular basis. They’re narrowing the definition in a way that is not consistent with the DHCR order.”

As for the occupancy charge, the Council member said he and the Tenants Association would be reviewing their interpretation of it with CWCapital directly. Garodnick explained that the instance he and the Tenants Association had heard about involved a man having to pay a $150 charge to add his girlfriend as an occupant.

“The situation we heard about was not consistent with that. We’ll try to find out what happened,” he said.

The Tenants Association also responded to the letter.

“The Tenants Association has always believed that the decision of who has access to a tenant’s home and building is solely that of the lawfully abiding Tenant of Record, and not that of the Owner or Manager,” the TA said in a written statement.

“We firmly believe that access permitted by a key card should not be revoked until the Tenant of Record explicitly directs the Owner or Manager to do so, or as otherwise directed by a court or law enforcement official – and only after due process has been served.”

The TA went on to say it understands management’s challenges in dealing with short-term rentals and “over-occupancy… or what some characterize as student apartments. However, we feel that these issues should never impede access to a tenant’s home.”

On the occupancy fee, the TA said it had encountered two tenants who reporting being the sole tenant of record, and were still charged the fee when registering a single occupant.
The Tenants Association said it also welcomed the response from CWCapital.

Letters to the editor, Oct. 23

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Tenants don’t deserve the silent treatment

Last Friday a man tried to rape a young woman in an elevator in Stuyvesant Town. Thankfully, the alleged perpetrator has now been caught.

While the Tenants Association quickly sent out an email informing tenants as to what had happened and urging them to stay alert and be careful, not one word about the incident was heard from CWCapital or Compass Rock. There were no emails from them. No warning flyers were posted in buildings or put under apartment doors. Nothing.

Unfortunately, their disgraceful behavior all too amply demonstrates and reinforces the feeling of many tenants that CWCapital, Andrew MacArthur and Compass Rock show little or no regard for tenants. Management was willing to risk tenants’ safety – maybe even their lives – by saying nothing to them about this crime. Why? To protect their bottom line.

Rather than acknowledging the attack publicly, Management sought to avoid scaring off current or future renters, especially those whose parents foot the bill for them to live here. Protecting management’s bottom line is also the reason that crimes in STPCV are often reported as having occurred in “Gramercy.” Tenants need to demand that the 13th precinct start reporting the location of these crimes accurately. If it doesn’t, it will be viewed by tenants as nothing less than a tool of CWCapital, Andrew MacArthur and CompassRock.

Name withheld, ST

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Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village residents to get rent abatement for days without heat, power

On Tuesday afternoon, Andrew MacArthur, managing director of CWCapital, issued the following email to Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village residents announcing there would be rent rebates (via credit) for days without heat, electricity and elevator service.

Dear Residents,

I am writing after one of the more tumultuous weeks in the long and storied history of this community. I want to express our sympathy for all that you have endured over the past 7 days and to express my thanks and appreciation for all that our staff has done since last Monday to ensure resident safety and the fastest possible restoration of services.

I know some of you still remain without some utility services and that our job is not finished until everyone is back to normal. As a demonstration of our commitment, and in appreciation for all that you have been through since last Monday night, I am announcing that anyone who has been without heat, elevator service or electricity will not be charged rent for any day in which they were without one or more of these services.

While this last week has been extraordinarily trying, it also highlighted all that is special about our community. Our younger residents kept careful watch over their elderly neighbors and our elderly residents provided us all with an example of how to overcome adversity with good humor and fortitude.   Our political figures pitched in and the various resident groups have done their part. Finally, our staff has demonstrated a commitment to this community that is extraordinary.  During this last week, PCVST showed what it means to be part of a community you should all be proud to call home.

I want to extend a particular note of thanks to the building engineers, Public Safety officers, executive staff, and the many volunteers who helped our community get through the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. I personally witnessed several of our engineers working, at significant personal risk, to secure damaged electrical equipment in order to maintain safe conditions in those buildings directly effected by the flood waters. I watched as our Director of Operations had a manhole cover explode next to him as he struggled with workers from ConEd to restore power. I am aware of several staff members that chose to stay here and assist this community despite having lost their own homes to the flood. Many of our executive staff slept onsite for the past week, leaving their own families in cold and darkness elsewhere, while they lead the effort to restore normalcy here.  Our Public Safety officers carried over 200 elderly residents down from their apartments and checked on over 500 additional residents at the request of concerned relatives. I also want to extend our appreciation to the Tenants Association and Councilman Garodnick who responded to our request for additional volunteers to assist in our efforts to check on all residents without power and to help with the food distribution efforts. Everyone involved in this effort should be proud of their participation.

We still have work to do to restore services and return normalcy to this community. We will continue to work tirelessly until that job is complete.

With respect,

Andrew MacArthur

Managing Director – CWCapital

Peter Cooper Village and Stuyvesant Town Rent Abatement

Due to the impacts of Hurricane Sandy, we are instituting the following rent abatement measures for all residents of Peter Cooper Village and Stuyvesant Town:

  • We will abate rent for residents for any period their building was without an essential service (electric, elevators, heat).
  • We will abate rent for any resident with a scheduled move-out date from that date until the date they are actually able to move out.
  • We will abate rent for any resident with a scheduled move-in date from that date until the date they are actually able to move in.
  • We are trying to include the abatements as rent credits in the December rent bill, however we may not be able to include until January depending on how quickly our systems are able to be restored.
  • If you have a move-out scheduled in November, please email hurricanerentabatement@pcvst.comto discuss how your abatement will be handled.
  • Please pay your normal rent amount until the credits are reflected on your rent bill.