The Real Deal New York

Landlords file suit over new tenant protection agency

Say rent watchdog enforcing regulations that lack standards or a specific appeals process

February 25, 2014 05:30PM

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From left: Governor Andrew Cuomo and Ellen with a crowd of protesters

From left: Governor Andrew Cuomo and Ellen Davidson speaking before a crowd of protesters

A group of landlords have brought a case to the Brooklyn courts that challenges the legitimacy of recent changes to rent regulations.

Two building owners and three landlord groups filed a lawsuit with the state Supreme Court in Brooklyn that accuses the city of installing a regulatory agency to investigate landlords without mandating that agents follow any standards, procedures or appeals process. The agency, known as the Tenant Protection Unit, was created by Governor Andrew Cuomo. The unit is in charge of conducting regular audits of individual rent increase. It also has the power to subpoena and investigate landlords, according to the Wall Street Journal.

“The agency has been given the responsibility for enforcing the rent laws,” said Ellen Davidson, a staff attorney at the Legal Aid Society, to the Journal. “If enforcing the law has the effect of frightening landlords — that says something about their practices.”

The plaintiffs, which also include the Community Housing Improvement Program and the Small Property Owners of New York, claim new regulations violate the statute of limitations on rent increase challenges, as well. [WSJ] Angela Hunt

  • the regs are a life sentence

    DHCR had been (and hopefully still is) the most organized and professional and patient agency – a relief when you are terrified of your tenants and of the draconian pro-tenant laws – they have never given us a dirty look when we went in to ask questions, request forms or submit paperwork but we still get the feeling that they don’t think too much of landlords – but I have never seen a rich landlord there although a lot of lawyers are hired to do the paperwork these days. We have always seen dusty, weary been in the trenches a long time mom and pop operators there so why target us? Most of us are not tearing out anyone’s bathrooms and kitchens to force them out. And it is STILL on our dime that these units exist when the housing projects do a worse job than we do and no one blames them for not having the money to make repairs. This is an unrealistic proposition that the state has burdened themselves and us with in that we pander to the claims that there is no affordable housing. There is. You just have to ride a bus and a train to get wherever you want to go just like the rest of us.

    I do find the new forms to be perplexing but then I find that NY paperwork has gotten more not less comprehensible. I feel like it isn’t as cut and dried as the old forms and it’s disturbing that these days, DHCR isn’t as confident in their answers or if you call back, you get a different answer.

    If we can’t get rid of the bullying rhetoric employed automatically and widespread by the tenants, then the politicians will remain in fear of them and continue to pander to them with pretty weird alterations to already unpleasant regulations. Shouldn’t we have outgrown rent regs by now and let the market economy take over? Everything else is so sophisticated and complicated these days but we STILL cling to these notions that rent regulated tenants (as opposed to illiterate new immigrants who live in Jackson Heights) can’t manage their own lives without the rent regs – not even after the second or third generation in this country and city? Really? Not even after college? After graduate degrees and six figure jobs? They should still inherit big apartments so that the governor doesn’t get lambasted for the reduction in affordable housing units? Owning homes and income property elsehwere – is NO signal that maybe their units SHOULD be taken out of the rent regs as a pat on the back for for another success story and RELEASE the landlords after they’ve already pulled more than their fair share of providing affordable housing for so long?

    Are we really planted into this situation because political leaders don’t want to call a spade a spade and just want to get along with tenant groups who are much rougher on their targets than landlords. Because living that close to the action in Manhattan at reduced rents either gives the tenants a HUGE advantage in the workplace and once they have that advantage, should really move out and commute with the rest of us OR they can’t adjust at all in which case being in Manhattan isn’t going to do anything for them except make them pissed at all the success stories around them and then they take it out on people including the building owner.

  • Flipoutnyc

    All these politians always protenants so they can get their votes later when election is coming. So you know what their intentions are.

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