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LIC: Tenants who were ordered to leave rent-stabilized building following fire claim landlord wants them gone for good

Google 10-38 47th Road

Oct. 17, 2017 By Tara Law

Tenants of a Long Island City apartment building have taken action against their landlord claiming that he has neglected to make repairs since a fire tore through the property so they will not return to their rent stabilized apartments.

The fire ripped through their six-unit apartment building at 10-38 47th Road in January and they are still waiting for their landlord to make repairs.

Three of the six tenants filed suit in Queens Housing Court in July against their landlord Pui Yan Ho–and management company Bethel Management–alleging that they were not repairing the units in a timely fashion. They claim that the landlord wants them gone so he can raise the rents since the property is rent stabilized, according to representatives for the tenants at Queens Legal Services.

Two of the units currently have severe fire damage, with the other units having varying damage. The building also has extensive electrical and water damage, according to Jeannie Chung and Jennifer Fernandez, attorneys at Queens Legal Services who are representing the tenants.

Electricity and water at the building is currently shut off and the windows are still boarded up.

Chung and Fernandez said that the landlord has blamed “insurance, asbestos abatement, [and] economic” issues for the delay in repairing the apartments.

However, the plaintiffs argue that Ho is just using the fire to get around rent stabilization laws.

The Rent Stabilization Code was established to protect affordable housing in New York City,” Fernandez said. However, he added,”a landlord can circumvent these protections by delaying the repairs, causing the tenants to give up and find other housing and allowing the landlord to raise the rents.”

Bethel Management Inc. did not respond to a request for comment by the time this article was published. Meanwhile, Ho could not be reached.

Since the fire, most of the tenants have stayed with friends and family. The tenants were ordered to vacate the property after the fire by the Department of Housing Preservation and Development.

The tenants have not been permitted to go back and retrieve their possessions.

Queens Legal Services requested a timeframe for the repairs in May, but the management company did not respond.

Tenants said that they were frustrated with the management’s lack of communication and their inability to return to their homes after so long.

“It is now October, and seeing no work being done… I’m [now] deeply disturbed,” said longtime tenant Claire Munday. “I feel taken advantage of by the landlord and Bethel Management.”

 

 

email the author: news@queenspost.com

36 Comments

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bob

Congrats Steve the Realtor. That post is a great example of the intelligence level of the average realtor. bravo!

Reply
MRLIC

Steve the Realtor, Where is the buyout? Why is the landlord dragging his feet? These poor people don’t know where they are going to live in the future. How would you like that situation. I would not and I believe you would not either.

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Steve the Realtor

I don’t understand.if you live in the apartment because you can’t afford to move.and the landlord clearly wants to relocate you.have him help but you a condo.
Now you become part of the prosperity of the great NY real estate market.you don’t need the rent laws and the landlord gets to improve the building collect higher rents and pay bigger taxes.so the city can off set poor and low income people.not people who basically hit the lottery when the apartment they live in is now worth enough to but you out.
I think if a landlord can offer 80,000 or more to a tenant.tgat tenant should have to move out.and not stand in the way of progress.
It is the landords property and only the lease that the tenant holds.and if the lease holder can be relocated anywhere in that borough,in ownership of thier own apartment the law would not make sense.who are you protecting then.a person who can own and live in a city where real estate is at a premium.so let’s be real.tge tenants in these cases are usually.not willing to take a buy out because they play the laws and already have homes and other investments.in other family members names.or are subletting or illegally trying to pass the apartment to someone else they know.
The laws are not making sense if landlords offer to purchase homes for these people in exchange for thier own property back..and how fair is it when one person is protected with these laws and others are not.
Unfair from the beginning

Reply
Anonymous

The building may have structural issues from the fire which makes sense because the tenants have not been allowed in to get there belongings. Don’t be surprised if this building is ordered by the city to come down for safety reasons. Rain water along with the water used to put out the fire have soaked the wooden structure for almost a year not to mention the fire damage.

Reply
ins fraud?

my thoughts exactly. Could it be that the landlord needed the money since he wasn’t getting market rate for the units? Not making repairs due to various excuses allows interest to grow too…

Reply
Bruno

@ Ins You’re another one posting on a topic you’re just to lazy to research. 1 The owners know the rent role of the property they purchase. 2 You review the former owners books to get an idea of expenses and repairs already made to the property. 3- When repairs are done or major capital improvements are performed the owner or managing agent apply for MCI increases to pass along to the tenants.

Reply
Anonymous

I remember the night of the fire, and I’m so sorry to hear the tenants are going through this terrible situation. I’m wishing you all good luck in the future!

Reply
MRIRONY

Theses are the exact same tactics Trump used when he was a landlord to force out working people. You voted for him for president.

Reply
Frank

Well, Claire, you were taking advantage of the landlord before the fire. The landlord may not have the cash for repairs or might want to leave the building vacant for redevelopment, so go pay market rate rent like the rest of us.

Reply
OAR

How was she taking advantage of the landlord? They knew when they bought the building that all the tenants were rent stabilized and if there hadn’t been a fire they would all be in their apartments. The landlord has insurance so you can’t say they don’t have money. There are laws and the landlord is not abiding by them. Don’t tell me that if you could get a rent stabilized apartment you wouldn’t. Stop blaming rent stabilized tenants for landlord greed. The landlord is loosing money by dragging this out.

Reply
Frank

Or maybe the insurance payout is dragging along? Or the building has s so structurally damaged the landlord is in permit hell with the City? In any case, I wouldn’t want to live in a building like that even if it were rent stabilized. The more of these eyesores that come down, the better.

Reply
brooklynmc

Rent stabilized apartments are unfair and the system is being abused. Yes, I would love a rent stabilized apartment, who wouldn’t? I know a lot of people with all cash businesses that get into these apartments because they claim their salaries to be much lower. I know one couple who sold their apartment on Center Blvd. for 1.5 million and moved into a rent stabilized apartment. How is that fair? The system is broken and needs to be fixed.

Reply
Bruno

Brooklynmc- Rent stabilization has nothing to do with a persons income. Kindly, inform yourself on the topic before commenting. This is one of the biggest problems facing America today, lack of information and misinformation with a lot of opinion.

Reply
Em

Thank you! 100% correct. Stabilization has to do with the controlling rent inflation in a given neighborhood. It has nothing to do with the tenant’s income. When the tenant moves out, the landlord can charge current market rent to the next tenant. That rent is then stablized – i.e. prohibited from increasing by more than a fixed percentage on an annual basis – until the tenant moves out and a new tenant moves in.

The disinformation struggle is so real.

RS Astorian

Rent Stabilization and a person’s income are totally unrelated. RS apartments are rent regulated and the percentages are voted upon every year by a council so that greedy landlords do not gouge the tenants or charge illegal rents. If people CAN EVEN FIND a RS apartment, they are lucky because people who have them do not move if they don’t have to….why ???? because most of them are not Millennials with endless roommates who move in and out like gypsies every couple of months. They are working class people who cannot afford $3M /4M a month for rent in a box. The landlord probably wants to gut the building or sell it so another high rent shoe box can go up .RS is fair housing .

Reply
Bruno

Frank you sound jealous. The overwhelming majority of rent stabilized spartments in the outter boroughs are at or very close to market rents. Fact! You’re a bleeding heart for the poor landlord who knew the rent role and the existence of the rent stabilized units when they purchased the place. You’re blinded by envy and short on facts.

Reply
Bruno

Landlord – Please take note that Frank and Brooklynmc never countered my post because they know I’m correct. Please also take note that Frank was and is still posting to this very comment stream well after my posts so he definitely has seen them. At least you know the difference between rent control and rent stabilization. A 6 family unit in the stabilization program is odd. All you need to do is for the owner to take over units for personal and family use to get the units out of the stabilization program. Who is advising the owner?

Reply
Bruno

I did answer your silly question but it never got published. I own a house with my wife in Astoria. And you?

Frank

If rent stabilized apartments are so close to market rate, then why continue the system? Why defend it?

Bruno

Frank – It took a while but you’re back with an inane question…Dude you should spend more time researching and less time shooting your uninformed mouth off. You have access to the very same sources I have. Here is a freebie..I know that is a word that is not in your vocabulary so go look that one up.. “The long-term trend is toward zero rent-controlled apartments.” Today, when a rent controlled apartment becomes vacant, (yes there is a difference between rent control and rent stabilization), it either becomes rent stabilized, or, if it is in a building with less than six units, typically removed from regulation altogether. That means the total number of controlled units has slowly decreased as units become stabilized or deregulated. To wit: In the 1950s, 2 million of the city’s apartments were rent-controlled; now, that number is around 27,000 (according to the same 2014 HPD survey), or just about one percent of the total housing stock in New York City. Does this really sound like a system that is being continued to you? Most would say it sounds more like a program that is being phased out. But then again you’re a Fox informed blowhard who would believe anything, as long as it comes from someone who sounds and looks like you.

Bruno

Frank – While only around one percent of New York rental units are rent controlled, roughly 50 percent of the city’s units are stabilized. Rent stabilization generally applies to apartments in buildings of six or more units constructed before 1974.
Under the 421-a program, if the apartment became subject to rent stabilization after July 1, 1984, the apartment will undergo deregulation if the owner has included a prominent notice in the lease and each renewal that stabilization coverage will expire following expiration of the tax benefit and the approximate date of such expiration. As with the J-51 program, protection will continue until the end of the last lease signed while the benefit period was in effect. However, apartments in buildings constructed under the 421-a program which became subject to rent stabilization before July 1, 1984, remain rent-stabilized tenants until the first vacancy occurs after the expiration of the tax benefits, even if the vacancy occurs long after the tax benefits have expired. This vacancy deregulation does not occur if the vacating tenant was forced out through harassment.

Once in a stabilized apartment, your landlord can only increase your rent by a percentage determined by the Rent Guidelines Board, which becomes an issue every year. Unlike other affordable programs, the rent does not depend on your income level, the apartment size, how many people live there, or any other needs-based factors. The biggest impact on the rent is how often the apartment has turned over in the past, as well as any renovations the landlord has undertaken.

Renovations are a big way landlords bump up rents on rent regulated apartments. Every time a tenant moves out, the landlord can hike the rent by roughly 20 percent, as well as raise the rent by a fraction of the cost of any upgrades. A landlord can also raise the rent if they’ve done a major building repair.

Then there are ways a stabilized unit can become market rate: The first is when a unit with legal regulated rent of $2,700 or more becomes vacant (something known as High-Rent Vacancy Deregulation); the second is when a unit with legal regulated rent of $2,700 or more is occupied by tenant whose income has exceeded $200,000 in each of previous two calendar years.

Rent stabilization sets a maximum legal rent for each apartment—as mentioned, it’s a number based on the unique history of each apartment. Preferential rent, on the other hand, is known as the rent charged to a rent-stabilized tenant that is lower than the legal rent.

While this sounds like a good idea in theory, in practice, it can lead to trouble for tenants. As a recent ProPublica report puts it, “Increases in preferential rents aren’t subject to city-set limits governing other rent-stabilized apartments. Landlords can revoke the preferential rates, and hike rents to the legal maximum, whenever leases come up for renewal. That can mean spikes of hundreds or even thousands of dollars.”

According to the New York City Rent Guidelines Board, that there are about 1 million rent-stabilized apartments in NYC

To answer your silly question. The program rent stabilized apartments have rents regulated by the government, which means that landlords can only raise rents by a set amount each year. So you don’t have to worry about your landlord jacking up the rent by $500 just because a huge attraction or draw opened on the corner.

Don’t worry Frank the program will be gone soon enough and at the end of the month the streets will be filled with peoples furniture put out to the curb just like the good old days.

Bruno

Frank – It looks like the 2nd part of my posts didn’t make the stream..Rent Stabilization program mainly applies to buildings with six or more units that were built before 1974, but certain tax abatements used by developers, some new buildings are also rent-stabilized but will come off the program in a certain amount of time.There is currently about One Million units in the stabilization program. A household’s annual income must be less than $200,000 to qualify ($200K for two consecutive years could block tenant from rent stabilization program), and stabilized apartments can become deregulated if the rent exceeds $2,700 and the tenant leaves (known as “vacancy decontrol”). So as you see Frank as rents go up and apartments “decontrol” and people move and tax abatements expire and condos and co-ops replace rentals there will be less and less units in the program.
The answer to your silly question is Rent stabilized apartments have rents regulated so, landlords can only raise rents by a certain amount each year. So you’ll never have to worry about your landlord jacking up the rent by $500 just because a popular attraction or trendy business opened in the area.
Don’t worry Frank the program will be completely gone and you will again see peoples furniture dumped on the curbs just like the good old days.

Frank

Bruno – the program exists and will exist tomorrow, therefore it is being continued. Last I checked, 27,000 is greater than 0. If the program were not to be continued, 100% of the few rent controlled units would go market rate tomorrow. Logic 101. Similarly, the program is not free, since it needs to be managed/administrated.

Much of the same goes for rent stabilized apartments. As far as I am concerned, I see nothing wrong with a landlord increasing rent by $500 or $5000 because of an improvement in the neighborhood. It is the landlord’s property, not the renter’s – the renter is free to move if they don’t like the new rent. Or to have their furniture dumped in the street.

I will skip the tedious and hominem attacks…those are best left to children.

Bruno

Frank – I pulled this from my post below, you obviously missed it. ” When repairs are done or major capital improvements are performed the owner or managing agent apply for MCI increases to pass along to the tenants.” So you see Frank when a landlord performs improvements he does get raise the rent. The poor landlords of the rent stabilization program.

Frank

Bruno, improvements are not the only reason a landlord might raise the rent. Landlords should be allowed to raise the rent for the same apartment because new tenants will pay it, plain and simple. Just because you rent somewhere doesn’t entitle you to be protected from a massive rent increase because a neighborhood becomes hotter or more interesting.

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