This blog contains just a few harassment experiences of rent-stabilized tenants, in rapidly gentrifying Harlem, NY. New York City (and the Nation) is in an affordable housing crisis, yet rent-stabilized tenants are being pushed out by predatory tactics, including construction and other harassment.
Our landlords own many buildings and have a long, well-documented history of pushing out low-income, stabilized tenants (click here). Here, the Attorney General REFB pushes the landlord’s offering plan to convert the building to condominiums. To convert, the building needs vacancies and (according to admission of the plan engineer) requires major construction, gut renovations. Conversion more than incentivizes landlords to drive regulated tenants out: they stand to make millions, still collect monthly fees, pass on costs to buyers, use reserve funds for investments, and building value to procure more funding.
Our landlords have many violations on their rentals, a record of construction harassment and very few hold-out tenants in their other conversions.
Upon purchasing the building in October 2015, with (per the initial offering plan) New York Community Bank (NYCB) funding “for conversion”, harassment began…The owners warehouse apartments, overcharge, took away janitor/super, remove all garbage and recycling bins, make no, few or shoddy repeated repairs, no heat, hot water, rats, bugs…. drove some tenants out.
They submitted a sworn condo offering plan (with blatant contradictions /admitted false statements, including building condition report) in October 2016 and intensified harassment — stopped providing more essential services, performed hazardous construction. Tenants endure blocked egress, toxic dust, concealing of issues, creating new issues, demolishing of their occupied apartments, leaving tenants without floors, walls, toilets… name calling, bullying, access abuse, no notice, no shows, no scope of work, take weeks instead of days-leaving work unfinished and dangerous. They do not cure -even- building wide violations and ordered work, despite months/years after being served notice/s to do so.
DOB found conditions put building and lives in “imminent peril”. Since, the landlords garner more violations for hazards, continue to disregard our health, safety and lives. Violations increased rather than decreased throughout seven months, since tenants filed an HP action in July. (They swear issues are corrected, re-inspections find shoddy or no work, garner new violations). They have ignored court order, other rules, laws, and continue to work hazardously and without permits. The Tenant Harassment Prevention Task Force found many hazardous issues here December 5, 2018. New stop work orders, summons have been garnered since. The building was put in the underlying conditions program around October 2018, only recently removed, along with over 60 violations (many which remain uncorrected). As conversion draws nearer, all disappear without correction.
The landlords have also filed false statements to various agencies, in order to interfere with use/enjoyment of apartment. They lie with ease, i.e. say they couldn’t cure building wide/common area issues due to a stop work order, when the stop work order was only for interior of one apartment. Also, as evidenced throughout this blog, falsely claim tenants don’t provide access. They have asked us not to call 311, and to waive other rights.
Many tenants just need a few repairs. Instead, with disregard for safety, repairs are repeated over and over, or left unfinished, abusing access, causing disruption of apartment use and lives constantly. Of course, the landlords continue to play mind games, as well as make their low opinion of regulated tenants evident. While we fight for our homes/apartments, they claim these Harlem tenants do not value their homes as much as others. All of these tactics are used in order to deny tenant rights, interfere with use of apartments — and to drive us out.
Though they have told us to our faces, to vacate, to Division of Housing and Community Renewal (DHCR), the landlords recently claimed they’ve offered to relocate us to create, “beautiful apartments, not only for potential purchasers, but for the tenants”. To intimidate tenants into vacating, to DHCR, they presented a Temporary Relocation Agreement with a statement that it was from the Attorney General and the offer was with a deadline. The AG claims it is the landlords offer, and claimed it is not even enforceable until conversion.
–66 W 138th Street Tenants Association
“We’ve endured harassment, hazardous construction, repeated repairs, access abuse constantly interfering with use of our apartments, and our lives/livelihoods. We’ve had our apartments gutted around us. The landlords don’t need us to relocate to make repairs….they don’t want to make better apartments for regulated tenants or they would have fixed things properly, not repeatedly … They want us out.”
Relocation means more discomfort and displacement. There are numerous cases in which tenants are trying to get back in to their apartments after agreeing to a temporary relocation. The deal presented is also costly without reimbursement until -or if- you move back in -which may never happen. One tenant here had no choice but to relocate in December, as they had begun demolition of his occupied apartment in October. They had done work without a permit therefore received summons, then garnered a stop work order, and are still not finished. They promised no rent increases, but have notified DHCR of the improvements, therefore can apply for increase within two years.
They’ve had an abusive amount of access and haven’t made our apartments nicer or even fixed all repairs. We don’t want to relocate, and live out of boxes indefinitely, or fight to get back in our homes. We just want the few repairs necessary, to end the harassment and hazards and to restore peace and quiet enjoyment of our apartments.
Please view the summary pages and posts on this blog for more.
Some Construction in our occupied apartments…
What are New York Tenant Harassment Laws? click here
What is Construction Harassment?
Who is fighting Construction Harassment? Many tenant organizations including NMIC, and local politicians support Stand for Tenant Safety. The coalition created new legislature regarding construction harassment and to protect tenants. This year they scored DOB poorly on following STS laws;