The Real Deal New York

City Council takes another whack at tenant relocation fees

February 06, 2014 02:35PM

City Council member Margaret Chin has re-introduced a bill Tuesday that would force landlords to pay a tenant’s relocation costs if a building has been shuttered for safety violations.

If tenants are unable to return to their building due to a fire or other illegal conditions, property owners would have to deposit 10 percent of building rent over the last five years into an escrow account.

The City Council tabled the initial version of the bill over the course of three years, then killed it just before the end of Mayor Bloomberg’s administration, accordion to Crain’s. At the time, Melissa Mark-Viverito and Jumaane Williams were co-sponsors of the bill. Now that both hold prominent Council positions, the bill has been revived and revised.

“There are a lot of illegal conversions going on, because of lack of affordable housing, and we need to create a system where, if people are displaced, they are taken care of,” Chin told Crain’s.

Chin also backed Soho’s struggle to receive a Business Improvement District, which was finally approved in October. [Crain’s]Mark Maurer

  • investigate the sacred cows

    Which vacate orders would that be?

    Not the three caused by tenants, right?

    17 Pike Street:

    41 Spring Street:

    47 Bayard Street:

    Please ask FDNY about the number of times they have found hoarding conditions in Chinatown apartments held for more than one generation and generally unoccupied – compare the Con Ed meter readings to these hoarder apartments – many of them including the two in my building are not inhabited – that contributes to the fallacy that there is no affordable housing unless everyone else digs in out of pocket for the ones who demand subsidization.

    If the Office of the Mayor can bust city employees for demanding raises by putting on blast in today’s Daily News that city employees enjoy higher salaries than the average New Yorker, then hopefully, the Mayor can establish that indeed the market has already made available affordable housing in the range of these SRO rents but in the other four boroughs – not in Manhattan and that is where the immigrants from Tibet, Central America, Poland, etc. live – they’re paying market rents that they can “afford” correct? Non one forced their landlords to renew their leases or to charge them the rent that they do charge. Talk to them. Ride the trains and ask the day laborer next to you where he lives and how hard it was to get housing.

    Do we really have to pay for a small number of people who are represented by professional advocates when the situation is handled by the market itself via supply and demand? No one would be advertising in Chinese newspapers and via their QQ accounts for rooms to let in newish buildings in Queens and Brooklyn for the same asking rent as 47 Bayard’s SROs were getting if there wasn’t a market for these non-Manhattan locations.

    The Chinese clearly do not have a problem living outside of Manhattan as indicated by multiple Chinatowns in both Brooklyn and Queens not just the two huge ones in Sunset Park and Flushing. They just WANT to live in Manhattan like everyone else on the planet wants and they have the unique opportunity of having professional advocates paving the way for that on someone else’s dime.

    The problem for this lucrative argument that (financial) help is needed for Chinatown residents paying $600-$800 per month to share a bathroom is that the larger Chinatowns in Brooklyn and Queens indicate that when Chinese look for affordable housing, they actually create and revive commercial strips and that means we actually want to encourage immigrants to build their own communities in affordable areas in need of economic revival. To do that, we need to expand the police precincts in those areas and … yes, build senior citizen centers so the elderly will enjoy living with their kids and grandkids. That is not the situation in Chinatown where retail is stagnating despite there being long queues for restaurants on weekends. Chinatown is in a very strange unnatural situation because residential definitely affects what retail will work. We need to build up – WAY UP to save Chinatown’s economy but that wouldn’t make the squeakiest wheels rich, would it?

    Demanding handouts is not how you make money and build something self-sustaining. It won’t save Chinatown and frankly, it looks less like protecting Chinatown and more like a power grab by knocking out the actual building owners and turning out their buildings into the hands of who knows who.

    • rolls downhill lands on owner

      But watch out for self-interested self-aggrandizing profiteers opening up senior citizen centers – we can’t have any more pork barreling draining the government coffers:

      And it’s absurd to ask an owner to cover a renter’s cost in the event of a vacate order because it classes the owner as a second-class citizen whose own losses are disregarded – it’s like being asked to carry someone else when you yourself have sustained injury – it’s incredible discrimination. Is this bill restricted to corportate entities or is everyone going to be wearing the yoke? What about people who rent out a unit in their two-family home, are they going to be liable as well? Why not? Because they are a bigger voting bloc?

      Private individuals and businesses already support affordable housing by offering their real estate to rent at market rates. Most people are being housed out of the jurisdiction of these regulations. Look at the ads, investigate, vet them, see for yourself.

      The Mayor could save a ton of money that can go to making kids tech-savvy if he effectively establishes the true housing situation in this city. Basically, no one wants to commute BUT most people … commute. They dig out their own snow, they do without to afford their heat and hot water. When a homeowner has to vacate their home, unless it is a Hurrican Sandy situation, there are no handouts. And these are not rich homeowners.

      This bill is about passing the buck and having it land once again on the building owners. It’s not about Horatio Alger or Paying It Forward. It’s about acting like the victim even when enjoying the largess of the society in the forms of subsidized housing and schooling. Can I ask? Everyone who is so proud of making it and becoming a big success … do you reimburse the taxpayers who helped you get there by repaying your need-based reduced college tuition and subsidized rent? Just wondering.

      Because if you don’t, are you claiming that not being born with a silver spoon is someone else’s fault and that you were owed being subsidized?

      • there’s no justice

        I have an older tenant who played Mark Antony’s most famous song (I don’t remember what it is called) on Repeat 1 (she made a tape) constantly for months only to switch to Cher’s “Believe” on full blast and none of her crony neighbors would complain about her.

        But she has no problem complaining about the market rent boys above her for descending their spiral staircase too loudly but the landlord couldn’t hear anything from the hallway when they descend. She refuses to let the landlord in to test the noise level by standing inside her apartment and when confronted with this offer, retreated and claimed it was fine but then she was overheard threatening the boys again with calling the police!

        If we push her, she will sic her Hong Kong grandson who is at NYU Law School on us. But she has been instrumental in getting more than one tenant above her to leave by god knows what methods and the apartments above her were specifically designed as a duplex to … spare HER … so the living room is another floor above her so she can’t complain about them “walking on their high heels” (multiple tenancies above her – the prettier the girls, the more the complaints and pretty much all of the girls in the apartment above her have been young and pretty).

        If the landlord doesn’t police this problem, she will have no problem taking us to court and making us responsible for the DISTURBING noise of boys banging their way down a metal staircase – but what about burden of proof and the fact that she won’t let the landlord inside her apartment to witness the noise as a third party who just wants to resolve this matter so there isn’t a sword of calling in a noise complaint hanging over these boys and yanking the landlord in as the ultimate bearer of responsibility.

        PLEASE do not make landlords cover the living expenses of tenants who have blown up, burned or otherwise violated the RENTAL units owned by the landlords.

        Why isn’t she going after whoever it was that turned those 47 Bayard Street units into SROs?

        • archie bunker was a war hero

          You have to hand it to the rent controlled Cantones in the Daily News article though. They keep a nice home even in tight quarters. I never made the connection until the Giuliani administration, that Italians are really great beautifiers – from my own neighbors in Queens with their modest but perfect front yards to Mayor Giuliani fixing up the exterior of his office building with black railings and also how the Italian landlords in Little Italy would soap up and clean their sidewalks every morning back in the day. These people are role models truly.

          Our neighbor in Queens who was an elderly but dapper Italian man with an accent for years would always stand outside to get air but as he told us, also to watch our house after my father was murdered and he always moved our garbage cans for us and he would shovel snow perfectly not just for himself. That’s a role model and a reason to pay it forward. His next door neighbor also Italian berated my next door neighbor from Germany for inconsiderately shoveling her driveway snow onto the road.

          Tony Avella even has a snow shoveling campaign for the elderly in Queens. There’s no profiteering or toxic penalties in that. That is the kind of leadership and concern that we need to see. Driving already beleagured landlords further into the stress spiral is not great public service!

          • What a punny world we live in.

            Correction: not the Cantones (landlord actually) but the Coiros (as in QUARRELS?) kept a nice apartment,

            I once spoke to a housing manager whose surnmae is … Haus.