PRESSURE RISING ON MULTIPLE ‘UNEQUAL’ RENT-STABILIZED BUILDINGS

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The lobby at Stonehenge Village.

It’s not just one gym. Several local building owners are now facing heat for excluding rent-stabilized tenants from amenities offered to their neighbors in the same building who pay market rates.

State assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal announced on Sunday that she’s introducing a bill that would “penalize landlords who discriminate against rent-regulated tenants by prohibiting their access to new amenities and common areas, such as fitness rooms, rooftop decks, pools, and playrooms and reserving them exclusively for market rate tenants.”

In the release about her bill, Rosenthal said she’s heard from tenants at several buildings where management has kept them from using pools and other amenities available to market rate tenants. She claims they are “separate and unequal.”

“The rent-regulated tenants living in the Greystone, located at 212 West 91st Street, have been prohibited from using a new gym, despite offers to pay a monthly fee to use it. Assemblymember Rosenthal wrote a letter to the owners of 230 West 76th Street/235 West 75th Street, who were also denying rent-regulated tenants gym access that was provided to market rate tenants. In other buildings Assemblymember Rosenthal is working with, landlords provide free shuttle service between the building and nearby subway stops to market rate tenants only and have also installed pools, game rooms and play areas for market rate tenants only.”

The Daily News reported that the owner of the Windermere on West End and 92nd “has banned rent-stabilized tenants from using the building’s new gym, pool, children’s play room, lounge and rooftop patio.”

Rosenthal says her bill will hit landlords who violate it with a $25,000 fine and make them forfeit rent increases until the violation is fixed.

The issue first gained steam after tenants at Stonehenge Village on West 97th street protested the management’s decision to lock them out of a new gym in the lobby. Public Advocate Letitia James has since filed a discrimination complaint about the practice with the New York City Human Rights Commission.

Tenants have said they offered to pay to use the gym, but the management wouldn’t even allow that. Marcia Horowitz, a spokesperson for Stonehenge Partners, did not get back to us about whether the building had refused the tenants’ request. But she said “everything we have done regarding this matter is in full compliance with all laws.”

She said that the building has put in several other enhancements that benefit everyone.

“We have to date invested over $5 million towards systems and upgrades to the common areas at Stonehenge Village, including the lobbies and rear courtyard.  These improvements benefit all new and existing tenants alike. The small gym we built and opened last week is different in that it is aimed specifically at new and prospective tenants who expect certain amenities and incentives that are commonly available to market rate renters.  Our ability to attract residents at market rates, which in this Upper West Side neighborhood are as much as three times the average paid by our rent-subsidized tenants, and to maintain high occupancy is critical to the overall financial health of the building which is in every tenants‘ interest. Our goal at Stonehenge Village is to provide a well-managed, high quality building for all our tenants.”

We checked with a lawyer to see whether he thought the tenants had a case. David Kaminsky, who represents tenants and landlords in disputes, sent the following response:

“[I]f the rent stabilized tenants were not provided the service of a gym amenity at the inception of their tenancy they have no right to the service and no right to complain about the refusal of the landlord to provide such service.  The reason is that since the gym service was not initially provided to the rent stabilized tenants, it is not a service that the tenants were initially paying for as a portion of the rent.  However, the only way to be absolutely sure is to file a complaint with the State of New York DHCR and see if DHCR concludes that the rent stabilized tenants are entitled to use the Gym without paying an extra gym fee.”

BrickUnderground also talked to lawyers who were skeptical that a legal challenge could win. Said one: “I strongly suspect the landlord is completely within his rights to do it.”

Of course, those legal rights could change if the state passes Rosenthal’s bill.

On Monday, Community Board 7′s housing committee will discuss this issue, along with residents of Stonehenge Village. The meeting starts at 6:30 and is at 250 West 87th Street.

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    1. denton says:

      Yes, you are separate and unequal. You pay less rent. A lot less. Bringing in language from the civil rights movement so that you can pay less rent and get more stuff for free is pretty despicable.

      • C. Marie says:

        Ah please! What would you care if someone used the gym who’s paying less than you. You wouldn’t know the difference! They wouldn’t be wearing a sign saying so. This is discrimatory through and through. If someone was lucky enough to get into the program (which is VERY scutinizing and only 20 percent of apts are under this program) or has lived in a building before amenities have been put in… I say good for them. There are no afordable housing around anymore so if this is the only way to afford to live here and it happens to have amenities I say great!!! There are too many people who walk around with this big entitlement chip on their shoulders. Shame on you.

        • G Gomez says:

          You’d know if the tiny gym is suddenly twice as crowded and you have to wait in line to use it. It absolutely does affect the market rate tenants in the building, just as if it were a pie being split 20 ways instead of 10.

          I love the “entitlement” language. On the one hand, we have people who are complaining because they don’t get a free gym with their dirt cheap luxury apartment. On the other, we have third parties remarking on the situation who won’t get free anything one way or the other. Who exactly is feeling “entitled” to something here?

          And the “shame on you” stuff is preposterous unless you’re a grandma talking to your naughty grandchild.

          • C. Marie says:

            Does that happen to you? Are there lines for machines in your building? I bet there are not! Most of the gyms in these buildings are close to empty most of the time. By the term “entitlement” I mean people with a certain type of holier than thou attitude according to how much money you make and can afford. And as far as “Shame on you” ( which people say across generational lines and I’m certainly not a grandmother) I’d rather say that than saying you’re an asshole.

            • G Gomez says:

              If only my market-rate building had a gym. But it doesn’t. Truth is, most of us don’t get a gym included in our rent. I live in a very small, non-luxurious one-bedroom that is currently the best I can afford. If I had a $1000 2 bedroom with terrace, I would certainly not complain. I’ll bet that most people struggling to afford their apartments (many of whom are no better off than the stabilized tenants in those buildings) are less than sympathetic with the “plight” of these tenants.

              Your asshole comment speaks for itself, far better than any insult I could throw back at you.

            • G Gomez says:

              Also — I don’t belong to a gym, period, though I’m quite into health and fitness. Currently I run outside (yes, all winter) and do pushups, planks and such in my apartment. Fitness can be free. A gym is a luxury.

            • Bruce Bernstein says:

              i keep saying this, and Avi said it in the article above: the rent stabilized tenants offered to PAY a few to use the gym. they wanted to negotiate about what the fee would be. The President of the tenants association said this at Community Free Democrats last week.

              If you live in a building and you don’t have access to the same amenities even if you offer to pay — in other words, you are BANNED as a class from certain services — yes, that most obviously was discrinimation.

              what if we said that all tenants on unemployment could not use the gym? or all tenants with children? tenants who receive a lot of dry cleaning? and so on.

            • MartyKing says:

              Actually many gyms do indeed ban children. Are their civil rights being violated?

        • PD says:

          I completely agree with you. Enough already!, what? should the fire dept discriminate if the building was on fire ???? What if the firefighter lives in a rent controlled building should he only save rent controlled tenants and leave the rest to get a private firefighter to save them????

      • Maria King says:

        Elderly people pay less to ride the bus, should they have to ride in the back of the bus so you can sit in the front of it since you paid more, would that make you happy?

    2. Drew says:

      Disgraceful on her part. This woman is USELESS. How about helping to evict any of the dozen illegal homeless shelters in the West 90′s and 100′s instead fighting a ridiculous battle.

      How about this example. I having been leasing a Hyundai for $100/month. I got this great rate bc I don’t make a lot of money and the government (fellow city taxpayers) indirectly subsidize my payments. Over the years Hyundai’s have improved their quality and level of car and because of this I think I want and deserve a brand new Hyundai with all the bells and whistles for the same exact price. It’s UNFAIR if I don’t get this. I’m going to pass a bill making this the case.

      • Jamie b. says:

        Only a true heartless elitist would try to change the subject to evicting homeless shelters in a city full of homeles people. Nice job Drew, when you get to the homeless shelter we will be sure to evict you first.

    3. PRL says:

      Yet more deplorable language by a headline-hungry politician taking up a totally misguided cause. I keep dreaming that somebody will speak up and stop feeding the entitlement monster but no such luck yet.

    4. Elisa says:

      I think it needs to be understood, by those who posted the elitest messages here, that Developers/Landlords are given substantial rights and tax breaks when they offer up a small percentage of these buildings to lower rent apartments. It’s generally what’s called an 80/20, 85/15 to denote the split. It affords the developer the right to do things like, demolish the existing housing that house lower and middle income citizens, tax breaks, zoning infringements, NOT building a new school, playground or public space, etc.
      The lower income tenants are not getting anything for free. These apartments are not free, just affordable – in a city that is becoming increasingly unaffordable.
      Paying less rent does not make on unequal, just less affluent.

      • G Gomez says:

        And for those of you who don’t think anyone pays for these tenants’ fantastic deal:

        The building owner gets a tax break in return for providing these cheap luxury apartments for a lucky few. The building owner pays less in taxes. Right?

        When he pays less in taxes, one of two things must result: either (1) there’s less tax money to pay for public services, or (2) the rest of us must make up for the lost revenue by paying more in taxes.

        That means the rest of us are paying for these tenants’ lucky break, one way or the other. Either we’re getting fewer tax-supported services (because there’s less money to pay for them), or we’re paying more to make up for that lost tax revenue.

        The tenants ARE getting something for free. And if the building owner isn’t paying for it, the rest of us are.

        I don’t have a problem with my tax dollars assisting those less fortunate. But I do mind it going toward paying for fancy-pancy amenities that I can’t even afford for myself. And I mind it going toward frivolous lawsuits to procure those amenities (because we’ll pay for that too).

        I think it’s a bit elitist to assume that the rest of us don’t know about the 80/20 program. We’re just not naive enough to think it creates some kind of magical fairyland where luxury apartments grow on trees and don’t cost anyone anything.

        • C. Marie says:

          I think you think you’re elitist because you can afford it. If, in fact you can. If someone buys a house in a community for a lot less than other people in the neighborhood because of certain circumstances, or someone bought a house 20, 30 40 years ago and there’s a swimming pool put on the rounds plus a few other amenities, should the person who paid a lot less for their house than their neighbors be discriminated against using the said pool and such?

          • G Gomez says:

            Wait — I’m elitist simply because I can afford a two bedroom doorman apartment with terrace and gym? Just having money automatically makes one elitist?

            Actually, I can’t afford it. Neither can most of us. But never mind.

            We’ve already addressed your “what if you paid less for your apartment 20 years ago” argument in the comments under a previous article. Market rate is market rate. If you bought a place 20.30,40 years ago at market rate, you paid the then-going market rate. You bought it with 1994 or 1984 or 1974 dollars, on a 1994 or 1984 or 1974 salary. It is not remotely comparable to two people paying drastically different amounts for essentially the same place at the same point in time.

            If I went into a restaurant in 1974 with $10, I’d get a lot more food than I would today. Does that mean I should currently be entitled to the same amount of food with my $10 now?

            If I bought Apple stock in 1984 and sold it today, I’d make a huge profit. If I bought it yesterday and sold it today, I wouldn’t. Is that unfair?

            No. And no.

            When you rent an apartment, you sign a lease. It spells out what you get and what you don’t. If you don’t get something you’re entitled to under the lease, you have grounds for complaint. Otherwise, you’re out of luck.

            Would these tenants have refused to take these fantastically cheap doorman apartments if they’d known that the market rate tenants would get a gym and they wouldn’t? I don’t think so.

            • Elite Pete says:

              I can’t wait to read your new book, I hear it’s called “Elitists For Dummes” and it even has your picture on the front of it. Congratulations!

          • G Gomez says:

            And FYI, yes, I’d think it was perfectly fine to allow the homeowners who’d been in a place for 20 years to use a pool while not allowing new owners. Grandfathering benefits to some while not allowing them to newcomers is done all the time, under all kinds of circumstances. E.g., long-time employees get to keep their pensions, but new employees don’t get them, because there is no longer the money to provide them. Conversely, sometimes new employees get bonuses and other benefits that existing employees do not get, to give them an incentive to take a job.

        • C.Marie says:

          G. Gomez- This is a lottery system. It’s not easy to get into one of these buildings. I actually think elitism is a state of mind. And yours certainly seems like it! Just like someone who wins the lottery- are you going to discriminate because they won and you didn’t. It’s the luck of the draw. And a grueling process if your name does get picked. It doesn’t guarantee an apt. until you meet all the strict criterea. Those buildings that are affordable for low- and middle-income tenants are generally rentals with lotteries and waiting lists so long that only a minute percentage of applicants are ever taken off of them.

          Besides Rental units in our neighborhoods can be among the most expensive in the city. At the same time, the area’s original affordable housing has lost some of the protections that kept them affordable. A neighborhood’s income diversity is a sign of a healthy, economic and social environment. A balanced neighborhood needs inclusive programs such as the 20/80.

      • mozee says:

        You’re plain wrong. The RS tenants are grandfathered in when the building went condo/coop. Nothing to do with tax breaks.
        The tenants have no case but whining and getting the ear of patronizing politicians.

    5. G Gomez says:

      Add me to the list of lawyers who are skeptical that Rosenthal can win her case. And add me to the list of people who suspect that she knows that perfectly well and is simply using this as a political move.

      Really. With all of the big problems facing this city, seems like this should be low on the list (even if I thought it was a valid problem, which I don’t). If you want to help poor people, how about putting that energy into reforming the homeless shelter system so that they become something better than exorbitantly expensive rodent-ridden warehouses? How about preventing SRO buildings from forcing out SRO tenants to create more homeless warehouses?

      It boggles my mind that our political leaders are more interested in obtaining swimming pools and gyms for tenants who already have a situation than the vast majority of citizens in this city would consider themselves incredibly lucky to have.

    6. Tom D says:

      Where do I get in line to get a chance at one of those 2 BRs at either Stonehnge or Windermere for about $1000 per month? And even though I would love to have access to those amenities, I’ll figure out a way to live without them instead of paying close to $5000 per month or more for the new market rate 2 BR. By the way, I wonder if Linda Rosenthal ever bothered to check out how much usage these amenities actually get. As a broker who has shown all of these buildings many times every day of the week, its amazing how few people actually use the amenities.

    7. Dani says:

      Fine, they get rent control everything else is a plus. People are paying so much more, so yes, they should get some perks. If you are in rent control you can’t afford a NYSC a couple blocks away.

      Don’t this politicians have ever thing to fix- like the education system or the road holes ?

    8. Bruce Bernstein says:

      rent stabilization is not the best system in the world. but… it kept the pre-war buildings on the UWS affordable. and amazing as it may seem, the landlords still made money!

      the rents in the rent stabilization system go up by more than the inflation rate and have almost every year in memory.

      rent stabilization was weakened in the early part of this century — i think 2002 — when they put in a various partial decontrol mechanisms. so apartments have been leaving the system and rents have been rising. according to the libertarians, rents should COME DOWN as more apts go into the “free market”. the reverse has been what happened… rents have skytrocketed.

      I think most rent regulated tenants would like to see the so-called “market rate” tenants be grandfathered into a new, stronger rent stabilization system. that would benefit everybody but the landlords. but apparently many market rate people falsely blame their admittedly precarious predicament on the rent stabilized people.

    9. Nan says:

      I live in a rent stabilized apt and can use the new facilities paying exactly what owners pay, for gym and children’s playroom. I can’t use bike room I think……

      It’s been like this since these emenities were put in place.

    10. Dawn says:

      This rent stabilization conversation is so ridiculous. Being angry at someone because their rent is less than yours, calling them names, it is childish. Rents are set by the landlord. If you are willing to pay that price then you get the luxury of writing that check every month. Many people pay less than you and many pay more. It is what it is.

      Preventing residents of a building from using the facilities because of their total monthly rent IS discriminatory.

      • C.Marie says:

        Absolutely Dawn!!! You certainly got that right!!!!!

        • manhattan mark says:

          The entitled are the landlords, the enemy are the landlords
          and the rent regulations were put in place to prevent them
          from gauging the population. Amenities are incentive sales
          devices . In the 1930′s the incentive was 3 months rent free.
          Stop and take a break from who can use an inadequate little
          gym in your building and say goodbye to the mom and pop
          stores that are disappearing at an astonishing rate.

          • jane says:

            They’re not New Yorkers those of whom you speak!
            “Mom and Pops” ?? What’s that! They’d rather drive cars which are housed in the new garages in their buildings! They’d rather eat pizza and cakes and burgers instead of go to medium priced restaurants that have now been slaughtered by rent hikes in the area. MacDonald’s are the new upwardly mobile places to dine these days!
            A small inadequate gym in a building. Look at the size of these new new New-Yorkers! They’ve got a mouth the size of their waist bands! What’s this all about?! Nada!!

            • manhattan mark says:

              Jane, “Mom & Pops” are just individually owned stores by
              people who live in the neighborhood and they are being
              forced out thru incredibly high rent increases. The real
              estate industry is marketing the UWS as a high end area
              and the new stores coming in are catering to high end
              customers and the long term stores are raising prices accordingly.

    11. While I can understand the letter of the law validity of the statement made by the attorney quoted in the story what I don’t understand is how a landlord can take rent money from a tenant, money which goes towards building maintenance, staff to maintain said building, taxes, labor costs, equipment, utilities, etc., and not permit said tenants to use all of the facilities that their monthly rent helps to support.

    12. mio says:

      Most rent stabalized tenants are elderly anyway.. If they’re interested in keeping fit they should be attending NYSC which has a branch a couple of blocks from their building.
      New York is a town where until a dozen years ago, everyone was thin from walking ……Now the new luxury buildings provide tenants with garage parking! Everything’s changed. Everyone is fat. Nobody is happy.

    13. jane says:

      Does anyone know what the term “rent stabalised’ means in this context? I doubt it!
      I have a feeling the issue in this case is not the tiny ill equipped gym, that allows the owners of the building to get tax concessions, but rather the ‘sour grapes’ attitude of the people who’ve moved here more recently who’d been former suburbanites. They dont understand NY and never will. If you need to work out, join a real gym… they’re everywhere! Oh and ride one of those pathetic ‘Citi Bikes”

      • webot says:

        Huh?

        anyway, sounds like just another bitter hateful rant against new arrivals.

        and its not the new tenants protesting or suing.

    14. jules says:

      How about reversing the law which allows elderly tenants in rent stabilized apartments to be able to pass their 3 bedroomed 2000 sq’ $1,800 apartments on to their next of kin! That seems to be stretching it a little!
      In the meantime many of these ‘anonymous’ people moved to the UWS, many of them fleeing Europe years ago … It’s got nothing to do with underutilized, inadequately equipped gyms without instructors, but there could be a review out of this situation.
      The City needs to build a ton more housing for people whose jobs do not allow them to spend their entire salary on rent. They also need to build up the infrastructure to support the substantially greater numbers of people who’ve been displaced by luxury housing. Not by putting a garage in the basement but by doing something about adding a subway on W. 11th St for example… Cleaning the subways, streets and sidewalks; Getting the scaffolding on every block taken down after a year maximum.. and so on!!

    15. yup says:

      All this hot air relating to a gym in a building.
      Please. Lets focus on what’s really wrong in our overcrowded dirty, noisy city all former ‘character’ dissapearing from view. Manners? What?

    16. 9d8b7988045e4953a882 says:

      If the landlord allows stabilized tenants to use the gym and later decides to get rid of the gym, is the landlord legally obligated to reduce their rent due to reduced services?

      • Bruce Bernstein says:

        once again (I repeat this over and over — but apparently those who wish to excoriate the rent stabilized tenants only read what they WANT TO read) — the RS tenants offered to pay a FEE to use the gym. thus it is not a “service” that cannot be removed. raising the fee would be like raising the amount charged on washing machines in the building.

      • webot says:

        Yes, it would be considered a reduction in services.

        Webot, Esq.

    17. 9d8b7988045e4953a882 says:

      At least one good thing has come out of this: we’ve finally gotten Bruce Bernstein to admit that “rent stabilization is not the best system in the world.”

      I am still amazed at the chutzpah of these rent-stabilized tenants. If I had a 1-bedroom apartment on the UWS for only $1000/month, I would not be complaining. They are saving $24,000 per year after tax, or roughly $40,000 per year before tax.

      • John L says:

        I’d be fine with the subsidizers if only they could pay taxes on what they receive as income. The difference between what they pay and what market rate payers pay. They pay 1k for a 2bd with terrace, then tax the 4.5k they receive.

        • 9d8b7988045e4953a882 says:

          Agreed, they should probably pay taxes on it. Other reforms (assuming we can’t get rid of RS) might include:

          1. don’t allow relatives to inherit the rent-stabilized lease
          2. time limits (e.g. 5 or 10 years rather than lifetime)
          3. periodic resets to market
          4. entry into program via lottery
          5. income limits with strict checking of tenant tax returns, assets, etc.
          6. prosecution of tenants who fraudulently take advantage of the program

          • Bruce Bernstein says:

            where do people get such strange ideas? are you an MBA? business schools tend to propagandize people and their brains get frozen.

            i get a 10-25% discount on cell phone service, due to my employer. should i pay a tax on that as “income”? there are literally thousands of cases like this.

            • 9d8b7988045e4953a882 says:

              There is precedent for other types of government benefits being taxable, such as Social Security and unemployment. Though food stamps and cash welfare payments are not taxable.

            • Bruce Bernstein says:

              1) Social Security payments and Unemployment are cash income;

              2) rent stabilization is not a “government benefit” like SocSec, unemployment, food stamps, etc. it is a REGULATED MARKET. think of utilities — your electric costs, for example — which also operate in a regulated market.

              Perhaps we should take the price you pay for electricity and subtract it from the price you WOULD pay in a totally unregulated electric market. And the difference (your savings through regulation) would be taxable?

    18. Bruce Bernstein says:

      Let’s be clear what this issue is all about. Landlords and condo “sponsors” want to get as many rent stabilized tenants out of their apartments so the landlords can make more “super-profits”. yes, the buildings on the West Side were profitable back when they were mostly rent stabilized. but now the landlords and owners have a chance to make big “scores.” and the rent stabilized tenants are standing in their way.

      thus they try to make things as uncomfrotable as they can for the RS tenants, within the law (and sometimes outside of the law). the gym discriminations we are reading about are one small example, but one that rankles.

      the distinguishing feature of the RS tenants is that they have been on the West Side longer. back when I came to the UWS, in 1991, RS apartments were common. not too long afterwards, my building and many others simply stopped renting them out.

      thus, many if not most of the seniors on the UWS are RS tenants. So the people above who are ranting and raving against the RS tenants are excoriating a mostly senior population.

      • 9d8b7988045e4953a882 says:

        - There is nothing in the RS laws about age eligibility except for SCRIE. If it is determined that seniors truly require housing assistance, then a govt program can be created specifically for that purpose. Or you can donate to or volunteer for a charity that assists seniors with housing.

        - There is nothing in the RS laws about income or assets, except if the rent exceeds $2500/month, a small percentage of the RS apartments. Someone can make a lot of money and have a RS apartment.

        - There are many inexpensive apartments across the country and even in the 5 boroughs. For many years, I lived in a cheap neighborhood in Queens and worked my tail off to make a better salary, so I could live in a nicer neighborhood such as the UWS. If I can’t afford it in the future, I will move to a neighborhood that I can afford–not run to politicians to get me a special deal at the expense of everyone else.

        - Many market rate renters do not have a gym and cannot afford a gym. I run outside, climb stairs, and do body-weight exercises in my apartment for free. These RS tenants can do the same thing.

    19. Lisa says:

      I am a native New Yorker, fifth generation. Although we are fortunate to live in a very nice co-op, we have a number of older relatives who are less affluent and who live in rent stabilized apartments. They have lived in NYC for decades.

      It is appalling to see the vitriol and nasty comments regarding lower income West Siders, people who rent, people in rent-stabilized apartments. These are authentic New Yorkers, the people who stuck it out, who made the West Side a stable place…the Upper West Side was long known as progressive and diverse place. Sadly it swiftly turning into some sort of urban version of Scarsdale.

      • John L says:

        Gentrification is a fact of life. NYC is always changing. To be protectionist about who lives and who stays in a particular area is nothing more than selfish ambitions of people who want to keep things status quo. If you can’t afford to live in an area, move out. That’s what normal people do. If you think rent subsidization is a essential part of life, you are kidding yourselves. Subsidization was meant for a means of “help”, not entitlement. People who think that being “low income” is equal to diversity are plain ignorant. No less ignorant than those who claim that living in NYC for generations is a right to your heirs. If I can’t afford to pay for my ~5.5k 2bd apartment, I move out to where I can afford to live. How is it that you are entitled to stay while I am not? Isn’t this impinging on my rights as a resident to stay as much as yours?

        • PRL says:

          Well said. This is a fair market issue, not a Class Warfare issue as some people are trying to paint it. I can’t afford everything I want. But just because my neighbor can doesn’t mean I have license to scream “discrimination” and cry for the Public Advocate to come save me.

        • Bruce Bernstein says:

          People who complain loudly about the so-called “subsidization” recevied by the rent stabilized tenants really don’t have a leg to stand on, until they also complainm about the much greater — and much more direct — subsidization of rich condo owners. Or perhaps subsidization of the rich is ok but subsidization of the poor and middle class –unfair!! free market!!!

          of course this has consistently been the Republican philosophy in the last few decades. Cut food stamps, cut Soc Sec, cut health care, cut unemployment insurance — no subsidies! But touch the vast tax subsidies received by the ultra rich –”stop hurting the job creators!”

          Let’s be clear about all these arguments to end / curb / cut back on rent stabilization. You want to displace tens of thousands (maybe more) people, from the West Side, mostly seniors, mostly low and moderate income, almost all of whom have lived here 20 years or more. of course, homelessness would increase as well.

          maybe you feel comfortable advocating this sort of policy. it seems like you would have to have a lot of internal anger in order to advocate for this.

          • westSideRRRR says:

            again harping on condos when this is about market rate RENTERS subsidizing an under market protected class.

            FYI, mortgage tax deduction is Federal law and is obviously popular in the United States where home ownership is the norm for everyone , rich, middle and poor.

            and you conveniently never mention New York’s mortgage recording tax of 2.85% of the mortgage amount ($28,500 on a 1 million dollar mortgage alone) . OR the NYS and NYC transfer taxes , all of which go a huge way to negating any benefit of the tax deduction on mortgages.
            AND the co-op and condo owners also pay the ever ballooning property taxes that renters avoid.
            AND pay for all the maintenance and repairs on the property included in the rent.

            • Bruce Bernstein says:

              oh, i get it… the poor owners of these $1,000,000+ condos are oppressed and exploited and thus DESERVE the vast number of public subsidies that they get.

        • Lisa says:

          Actually, the term gentrification (term first coined in the 1960s) referred to slow, grass-roots sort of change in a deteriorated, impoverished neighborhood. Gentrification brought economic improvement to such areas over time, and over time, higher housing costs, which in the long-run certainly had a negative impact on original residents. But real gentrification was gradual and individual-driven. And real gentrifiers did not intend on pushing out people already in the neighborhood.

          What has been happening in many places in NYC over the past 10 years or so is very different. It is referred to as “super” or “hyper” gentrification – change instituted via the corporate domain, big real estate, and enabled by big zoning changes and big tax breaks for real estate developers etc. This is corporate/real estate driven change that takes over already stable, working class and middle income areas – with the intention of moving the residents out – and transforms these areas for the benefit of the very affluent. And does it rapidly.

        • Enrico says:

          I love how whenever a elitist troll is losing an argument about a neighborhood they always say if you don’t like it then move. You first! You think having more money gives you more rights? If you don’t like the high rent your landlord is charging, then take your own advice and move back to Loserville, USA.

        • C. Marie says:

          John-A neighborhood’s income diversity is a sign of a healthy, economic and social environment. A balanced neighborhood needs inclusive programs such as the 20/80.

        • C. Marie says:

          A neighborhood’s income diversity is a sign of a healthy, economic and social environment. A balanced neighborhood needs inclusive programs such as the 20/80.

      • Bruce Bernstein says:

        Hurrah Lisa!! Well said. i am a 3rd generation NYer… and am equally appalled at these remarks. People are so gung-ho about displacing senior citizens… and other “almost seniors” who have been here for 20, 30, 40 or 50 years.

        it really sickens me to hear this stuff. this is not the NYC / UWS I have known.

        • Reason man says:

          Bruce, even you must agree that it’s unfair for someone to pass down a RS apt to their heirs if said heirs have very high incomes, no? I’m fine with grandma paying $1k in rent for a marke-rate $5k apt., but if she passes on, how is it fair that her doctor kid making half a mil a year to get her discounted rate?

          • webot says:

            Extremists always go to the extreme, as if we saying its not fair for market rate tenants to subsidize under market tenants for new services like a gym means you want to toss Grandma out on the street – as if anyone wants that or in any way that would happen in New York – Google SCRIE – (senior citizens rent increase exemption).
            It does have the effect of not being able to have an intelligent adult conversation. For example, the law of untended consequences . all these rules actually retard the construction of new homes which increases the supply which reduces the pressure on rents for ALL.

            • Bruce Bernstein says:

              SCRIE is only for tenants with incomes of $29K a year or less. Further, if rent stabilization goes away, SCRIE will go away. Tenants are SCRIE eligible only is they live in rent stabilized or rent controlled apartments.

              http://www.nyc.gov/html/dof/html/property/property_tax_reduc_drie_sc_te.shtml

              if rent stabilization is repealed, as many commenters above have advocated, the population affected will be overwhelimingly senior citizens and overwhelmingly low and moderate income. tens of thousands on the UWS will be thrown out of their apartments.

            • webot says:

              I have asked you politely to not respond to my comments as I will not reply to your nonsense.

              and.. no one above even mentioned eliminating rent controls, we are talking about modifications.

            • Bruce Bernstein says:

              I respond and comment when I want to, not when you give me “permission.”

              You are wrong about what people are advocating above. People are talking about ending rent stabilization; even the so-called more modest “modofications” would throw tens of thousands out on the street. And isn’t that the idea… get them out of these apartments so the landlords can get “market rate”?

              by the — rent stabilization laws have NOTHING to do with “retarding the construction of new homes.” new apartment buildings ARE NOT in the rent stabilization system. (they can be placed in if they accept certain tax incentives, but this is rarer and rarer).

            • webot says:

              alright BB , then I ask that you not cry like a little baby to Avi when you feel like you are getting personally attacked , you passive agressive informed militant spewing lies and half truths to move your extremist left wing agenda.

              the gloves are off.

              you can take your ad homonyms with you too.

          • Bruce Bernstein says:

            Reason Man:

            this example of the millionaire doctor taking over his poor mother’s rent stabilized apartment upon her passing reminds me of Ronald reagan’s welfare stories: the “welfare queen” who drove a Cadillac; the “strapping young buck” (Reagan’s words) who was buying steaks with food stamps, and so on. Maybe these anecdotes reflect true cases (or maybe not), but they are few and far between.

            To “inherit” (formally, “succession rights”) a rent stabilized apartment in NYC is not an easy matter. The millionaire doctor would have had to co-habit the apartment with his poor mother for two years; in that time, it had to have been both of their primary residences. the millionaire doctor will almost certainly face a lawsuit from the owner before completing his succession. the apartment must continie to be his primary residence.

            much more common are cases of inheritance where a family member or co-habitator is unjustly forced out of the apartment upon the death of a leaseholder. think of gay couples where the name of one and not the other is on the lease.

            if your prime concern about Rent Stabilization is all of these rich doctor sons taking advantage of it, then you needn’t worry. these cases, if they truly exist, are few and far between.

            here is a link on the dynamics of apartment inheritance:

            http://metcouncilonhousing.org/help_and_answers/succession_rights

            • Michael says:

              For what it’s worth, the example that you’re suggesting doesn’t really exist is exactly what Linda Rosenthal did herself:

              http://www.brickunderground.com/blog/2010/07/qa_with_vertical_dweller_advocate_state_assemblymember_linda_b_rosenthal

              Check the first two questions.

            • Bruce Bernstein says:

              Michael, Linda Rosenthal is not a millionaire doctor! NY State Assembly members get $79,500 per year salary. perhaps she gets a little more as a committee chair.

              so we are talking about a middle class woman inheriting an apartment. that was not the exampel people were objecting to,

            • Michael says:

              Bruce, I appreciate your passion on this, but I think most people would agree that a well-paid state powerplayer like Linda Rosenthal is exactly the kind of person that should *not* be inheriting a stabilized apartment from her grandmother for a lease in perpetuity.

              They would certainly be surprised at the argument that our elected state officials are too poor to pay market rent, and possibly troubled by what may be some blatant self-dealing in this case. This may not be the example you want to defend.

    20. Bruce Bernstein says:

      some facts:

      in 2011, there were 30,420 rent stabilized apartments on the Upper West Side, representing 42.9% of all rental units.

      average rent on UWS for a rent stabilized unit was $1,450; for a “market rate” unit, $2,800.

      average income (UWS) for a “market rate” tenant was $120,000; for an RS tenant, $50,300.

      and this might shock all the anti-Rent stabilization ranters above: the percentage of tenants considered “rent burdened” (spending more than 30% of their pre-tax income on rent) is HIGHER for RS tenants than for “market rate” tenants. rs: 46.4%; market-rate: 42%.

      http://furmancenter.org/files/publications/HVS_Rent_Stabilization_fact_sheet_FINAL_4.pdf

    21. Bruce Bernstein says:

      I’ll respond to any comment on this site that I feel like responding to. You’re not the site dictator. You can always cover your eyes instead of reading what I write.

      PLENTY of people have talked about ending rent stabilization above. or putting a cap on the number of years, etc. Any way you do it… you are throwing tens of thousands of people out of apartments they have lived in for 20-30 years.

      • webot says:

        YOU CRAZY wackadoo.

        We are having a conversation about potentially changing system that has much room for improvement.

        Stop inflaming everyone with your rhetoric about throwing old people out on the streets.

        this is about whether or not they can use the pool. Not exactly life or death!!!

        pandering idiot.

    22. Bluffett says:

      All RS does is INCREASE inequality & the tale of 2 cities (as most well-intentioned but completely paradoxical liberal policies do). As the pool of the subsidized grows, the market-rate costs for the non-subsidized rises; meaning only ever-wealthier people can afford NYC. The middle class is squeezed to the ‘burbs & beyond. Unfortunately, there is a tipping point, when those paying get too over-taxed (or too demonized) and leave. Then everything collapses. It happened before, in NYC and other cities. It can happen again.

      • Bruce Bernstein says:

        of course in your dystopian scenario, the vacancy rate would go above 5%… in which case the rent stabilization laws no longer apply. This has never happened since they began in 1971 (and the rent control laws before them in 1943 or thereabouts).

        • webot says:

          Even if we were talking about ending rent controls – which we were not, and the State was considering it – which they are not, it would only happen upon vacancies (death or move out) thereby negating Bruce “Rain Main” Bernstein’s argument (which no one was talking about anyway).

          • 9d8b7988045e4953a882 says:

            I am for ending rent control and stabilization completely. It can be phased out over time to allow tenants to transition.

            The very first thing I would eliminate would be the ability for relatives to inherit a rent regulated lease. Further steps on the road to decontrol might include:

            1. Strict income and asset caps with yearly check of income tax statements and other documents. Anyone over the limits or with a second home elsewhere would have their apartment decontrolled.

            2. Time limit less than lifetime. We can debate the number of years, but it could be 5 or 10 years.

            3. Decontrol of apartment when tenant dies or moves.

            4. Periodic resets to some percentage of prevailing market rate in the neighborhood.

            I would also advocate easing much of the restrictions on creating new housing supply, including landmarking, historic districts, environmental impact studies, etc. And significantly lowering the property tax rates on rental buildings, which are higher than co-ops and condos.

            After these reforms, we could expect rents to be more in line with other major cities in the U.S.

            • webot says:

              Thank you, 9d8b7988045e4953a882.

              You do know you just made Bruce’s head explode with your rational and compelling thoughts.

              Agree with so much , except I am in favor of landmarking – mostly because so much of what is newly built does not compare to the pre-wars they often replace.

              That said, yes the City itself makes it so hard to build with permitting, approvals, delays, affordable housing shakedowns, union corruption and featherbedding, etc, that it retards the construction of the tens of thousands of units needed to meet demand.
              While I do think the UWS is pretty much build up, there is no reason the FAR and zoning is not changed in our neighbor to the south, the Far West Side below 59th street where vacant and underused lots can house many new buildings – but, half the area is off limits with height restrictions to 6 stories on 9th avenue, much of 10th to 12th is still zoned for manufacturing.
              Streamline the process, and developers will build. but it has to make economic sense . real estate development is risky, contrary to what the public, politicians, and Bruce say.

            • 9d8b7988045e4953a882 says:

              Webot, it is beyond me why the city would limit building height to 6 stories when we have a growing population (+1 million in the last 15 years) and a housing shortage. I wasn’t aware of that.

              There are plenty of places to build in the NYC area, as the recent rezoning of far west side, LIC, and Greenpoint have shown. In addition to rezoning, NYC/NYS could take some of the massive taxes we pay and create more subway lines, which would encourage housing in other less-densely populated areas.

              If we had a somewhat free housing market, investors and developers would be rushing in to build new housing in NYC, because the rate of profit would exceed that of other investments. That combined with rent decontrol would return housing costs to a more normal level.

            • webot says:

              well, for one major reason is unfortunately much of the City council , and now the Mayor’s office, share the misguided disconnected views of a Bruce Bernstein.

              I heard Helen Rosenthal campaign for a building permit moratorium and stronger rent controls. Ignoring the million+ increase in our City’s population. No one in power seems to understand basic economics and that with New York’s revival we have increased demand and pressure on rents. Note, the landlord’s do not create the demand, its the market. You are right about the taxes, the city had doubled and tripled the taxes on apartment buildings with controls or not under Bloomberg (real estate’s friend) and water and utilities., and the rents are capped at small increases a year.
              The same city council then denounces real estate owners as evil while taking 1/3 of gross income alone in property taxes.
              I guess in a city of renters , real estate owners are an easy target, when in reality it is the politicians who control the cards.

            • PRL says:

              Most people on this site know that Bruce Bernstein is just a blog-bully with an agenda. However, I absolutely agree that our UWS politicians and their anachronistic anti-everything policies have contributed greatly to the decline of the neighborhood that they are purportedly trying to help.

            • 9d8b7988045e4953a882 says:

              > unfortunately much of the City council, and now the Mayor’s office, share the misguided disconnected views of a Bruce Bernstein

              I agree. NYC has an incredibly backward housing system, and people such as Bruce fight like heck to conserve it. They then blame high rents on “greedy landlords” and “free markets.” Ignoring the fact that we do not have a free market but rather a highly govt-controlled system where only 39% of the units are unregulated and 61% are subsidized or have price ceilings. Then the city makes it very difficult to create new units through a variety of methods, further restricting supply.

              In a normal market, investors and developers would be flooding into NYC to build new housing units due to the high rate of profit.

              NYC is trying to become a hub for technology companies. But there are few good housing options for tech workers making between 70k and 150k per year. Many of them have to live in NJ and commute, because the NYC housing market is so locked up by rent stabilization, high property taxes, and numerous barriers to construction.