Buyers take advantage of distressed buildings

August 05, 2010 04:00PM

Rafael Cestero

With mounting numbers of buildings in foreclosure and others in disrepair, city officials and housing advocates say that corrupt investors are trying to purchase these buildings, often clashing with tenants, the New York Times reported. Rafael Cestero, the commissioner of the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development, said he had seen a number of distressed properties sold to buyers who were not acting “in the best interests of the city, the neighborhood or tenants.” City officials, seeking ways to intervene, are often virtually powerless, since most of the deals are private. “This is probably the most difficult thing we’re doing at HPD right now,” Cestero said. While the buyers are often paying less than the previous owners, tenant advocates maintain that prices are still too high for the amount of rental income the buildings generate and the repairs they need. So the new owners, advocates say, have already revived old tactics of tenant harassment, including bringing trumped-up lawsuits against tenants in rent-regulated apartments, hoping to evict them, and then raising the rent under the state’s so-called vacancy decontrol rules. [NYT]