The Real Deal New York

Artist tenants push for rent stabilization of Red Hook lofts

January 21, 2014 02:00PM

Artists living in a former luggage factory in Brooklyn’s Red Hook neighborhood are fighting back against rising rents, pushing for their units to be declared rent-stabilized.

Because the building at 14 Verona Street was constructed prior to 1974 and the landlord hasn’t made any major renovations since then, tenants are arguing that the homes should be converted to rent-stabilized apartments. The landlord has raised rents by as much as 60 percent over the last year, a suit recently filed by residents in Brooklyn state Supreme Court contends.

An attorney for landlord Harbor Tech, who has owned the building since 1999, around the time artists began moving in, told the Wall Street Journal that the law that the suit draws on was intended to protect existing rent-stabilized buildings — not create new ones.

But key in the suit may be the question of how much money tenants have pumped into their own upgrades of individual units, which they say include shower and full kitchen installations that cost tens of thousands of dollars.

Harbor Tech said in court papers that the landlord bore the financial burden of making such upgrades, spending $3.5 million to renovate the building for residential use.

The two sides are due in court on Thursday, when the tenants plan to push for summary judgement in the case, according to the Journal. [WSJ]Julie Strickland