The Real Deal New York

Bronx rental tenants balk at allegedly illegal fees

Landlords accused of tacking on hundreds of dollars said to pay for legal fees, appliance use

May 21, 2014 01:35PM

901 Walton Avenue in the Bronx

901 Walton Avenue in the Bronx

A group of long time Bronx tenants has filed a complaint with the state Division of Housing and Community Renewal claiming that their landlords are charging illegal fees every month. 

Tenants claimed on Tuesday that their landlords tacked on hundreds of dollars to their monthly rental bills, allegedly to pay for legal fees and the use of electrical appliances. About 35 tenants joined the Tuesday morning rally organized by Community Action for Safe Apartments, a project of New Settlement Apartments, at 1549 Townsend Avenue. The assembled tenants told the New York Daily News that they are suddenly being charged for the use of air conditioners, washing machines and dryers in units where they have lived for decades.

“It’s ridiculous, Elnora Smith, 69, an East Bronx resident since 1975, told the Daily News. “It’s not fair. This is aggravating when you look on your bill and see this on there, and you know they’re not supposed to be there.”

Smith added that she pays $469 in monthly rent. She claimed that her landlord, Jonathan Weiner of Chestnut Holdings, started charging a monthly washing machine charge of $13, which now has increased to $16.87. Legislation to make such fees illegal was introduced last year, but has not yet passed.

Landlords named in the complaint are Steve Finkelstein, who owns 901 Walton Avenue in the Concourse section of the Bronx, as well as Sam Rosen, Mandelbaum Ralph and Eric Samson, the Daily News reported. [NYDN]  – Claire Moses

  • no-permits

    depending on who paid for the washing machine, this could be legitimate.

    • noclist

      Landlords routinely replace old appliances with new and are allowed to increase the rent for such appliances in RS buildings. The washing machine in the apt is costing $ on the water bill, so why shouldn’t he pass those costs on to the tenant?

      • no-permits

        thanks for clarifying my point.

  • sallydunford

    State regs are clear on this – the landlord can charge for a washing machine or air conditioner provided its done within 3 months of the tenant getting the machine.

    And new landlord inherit what the old landlord did when he buys the building – if the old landlord didn’t charge the new one can’t suddenly begin. Some of these ladies have had these machines for 15 years

    With late fees, thy can be charged if its in the original lease the tenant signs, and it must be limited to a “reasonable amount” which has usually been interpreted as no more than 5% of the rent.

    So I’ve lived in my building for almost 40 years – late fees hadn’t been invented – the landlord can’t collect them, even if I signed a rider agreeing subsequent to moving in.

    My sister moved into the same building 20 years ago. Late fees are in her original lease, so she is liable for them

  • sallydunford

    Many landlord’s have use computer programs that charge everybody. If your not required to pay it but do, until recently it was just a mistake, and while I have seen owners return the fees when pressed, I have yet to see one credit the tenant when it was an overcharge

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