As property values in the city continue to increase, many landlords are looking to cash in – regardless of laws protecting tenants’ rights. Many buildings are being sold to unscrupulous investors hoping to turn a quick profit by making life miserable for rent-regulated tenants and getting them to leave.
They will use just about any tactic they can to chase tenants out, often in clear violation of laws. If your landlord is using these tactics against you, there are ways you can fight back.
How bad is it?
The New York Times recently ran a three-part investigation highlighting the assault on rent-regulated tenants. The problem has become widespread throughout the city, but is particularly concentrated in Manhattan and pushed heavily by a few ruthless investors.
The main players highlighted in this article for aggressive tactics are Orbach group and E&M Associates, but there are many others. There is almost no limit to what they will do in order to make life unbearable in affordable units that are regulated.
Tactics some landlords have used
The litany of offenses committed by some of these landlords is stunning. They can, and will, say or do just about anything to turn regulated apartments into market rate units. Here are some of the tactics landlords have used:
- A tenant was cited for “subletting” to relatives who had been living with him for 19 years.
- A tenant was accused of making her apartment “inaccessible and uninhabitable” with garbage, even though she had pictures to prove it was not true.
- Tenants who staged a rent strike for lack of maintenance were evicted, and some tenants in the same building who were not in the rent strike were evicted along with them.
- Complete reconstruction of buildings with constant noise and dust was performed with permits for only light renovation, and when tenants complained, action was taken against them.
Most of these tactics end up with legal action being taken against tenants who are only asserting their rights to a safe, clean, regulated unit. The costs and constant hassle from these suits is part of the ongoing harassment that renters face.
What can you do?
There is no doubt that the pressure is on in many regulated units across the city. There are landlords, particularly in a few investment groups, who specialize in “unlocking value” by getting rid of regulated units and cashing in quickly.
If you have been under pressure from any of these tactics you need to take action. Simply complaining or organizing a rent strike may not be enough. It is important that you know your options and take aggressive steps to protect your rights.