The Real Deal New York

Bill would give rent-stabilized tenants access to amenities

Council member Mark Levine seeks to amend human rights code
April 07, 2014 10:00AM

City Council member Mark Levine of West Harlem is expected to soon present a new bill that would prevent landlords from discriminating against rent-stabilized tenants over access to high-end amenities in a building.

The bill, which is being drafted, seeks to ensure that rent-stabilized tenants have equal access to rooftop terraces, children’s playrooms, gyms and other special features in a building. If signed into law, the proposal would amend the human rights code, thus increasing anti-discrimination protections for those tenants.

“We looked at the human rights code and it appears this is not a protected class, currently,” Levine told the New York Daily News. “Obviously, race and gender and sexual orientation, religion are all protected classes, but renter status is not — and until we change that, we’re not going to have a legal recourse to combat this.”

New York State Assembly member Linda Rosenthal recently unveiled a similar bill, in which landlords who deny renters access to amenities would be fined as much as $25,000.

In February, Public Advocate Letitia James announced plans to file a complaint with the New York State Human Rights Divison against Stonehenge Village’s management company, which permits only its market-rate tenants to use the building’s gym, as previously reported. [NYDN]Mark Maurer

  • SPONY season

    I can see the mistake in the law this is going to invite when it passes because it is so beautifully Cosby Show on the surface that OF COURSE, this is going to get passed into law. There’s a big mistake that this opens up.

    Anyway, does this mean that whatever leeway gets granted NYCHA and tenant advocacy owned property is also granted to private property owners in the interest of FAIRNESS:

    • Little SPONY

      It really looks like from the press coverage and the intense use of the word “affordable” that we about to see government rent control everything not because they care – they OBAMACARE about our ability to get affordable medical coverage when the law is really about allowing government access ot everyone’s bank accounts – in the same vein, they “care” about affordable housing to the point that they are going to rent control everything possibly to discourage foreign real estate investment in America. I doubt this is about tenants.

      • nobody cares how we feel
      • rent control will hit all

        The colonialists lost the American Revolution and The War of 1812 so then European predators turned their attention to the slave trade and to this day the Dutch are super rich as a legacy of that horror and South African apartheid. So we fought the Civil War not only against the human rights abuse of slavery but also the attempt to financially dominate and colonize the United States by superior financial strength that the industrialized and industrious North could not match,

        These days its all about printing guilders or krugerands or whatever currency that shall not be named and parking that money in other people’s backyards be it in real estate or shares in American blue chip companies. How else to explain the ongoing rise in stock prices that do not reflect earnings?

        • noclist

          85 billion per month, every month, for the last 5-6 years. Stock market loves free money. The FED policy makes the rich richer.

          • world war

            It’s all about our celebrity stocks – all the money comes in HERE!

          • its all a trap

            all this affordable housing coverage has to be warning off prudent foreign investors

            but if they think condos are the way to go – the law will lock rents on those too and you will be paying those high inarguable maintenance charges EVERY month

    • Getting Worse Daily

      Well, that’s why the city council gets to hike its budget by 10%:

      Other than taxing property owners while schmoozing with celebrity brands like Google – I smell college internships for friends and family, how exactly will this city make money?

  • KristinaMcGovern

    First off, I am a rent stabilized tenant and I am sick and tired of people thinking I pay like $500 a month for my West Harlem apartment. I actually pay over $2000 for a tiny two bedroom that gets zero sunlight. Meanwhile, my landlord ignores all of my requests for repairs, and even told our Superintendent to ignore our requests too. Meanwhile, as a build “perk” the super is installing new AC units in new tenant apartments and the new tenants also can sign up for exterminator visits when needed. When I tried to get an exterminator to come into my apartment he said we are not on the list. WTF? I emailed and called various city offices including our new Advocate’s office and they sent me an application for NYCHA housing(??!!) I just want to be treated as the good tenant I am. I always pay on time, I am quite, clean, and I am paying a lot of freaking money for my crappy apartment. If I could afford to move I would. When I moved into my apartment over a decade ago my landlord was kissing our asses because he couldn’t get what he called “good tenants” to move into the building- now if I call the landlord for a repair he literally SCREAMS at me says “what are you doing to my apartment?” and then says he sending someone right over and no one comes over to fix stuff. I want City Council member Mark Levine to get my landlord to fix all the tile falling off the walls in my bathroom!

    • HughGass

      then pay a market rent like the rest of us not fortunate to have a subsidized apartment.

      • You should direct your anger at the politicians who repealed rent stabilization and those who refused to bring it back, not those fortunate enough to still have it.

        • still stars and stripes 4ever

          the recent barrage of rent too high protenant articles not just in NYC including the NY Times but in San Francisco especially the Tesla line cook being evicted – all indicate that they are about to rent control all rents – this will hurt people who own two-family homes, this will hurt a lot of people – but the government must have some ulterior good motive for doing it – but financially, this is going to kill us individually.

          that means that SPONYs will lose their buildings if not to tenant advocacy groups who will not be held to the same expenses but to the developers who coincidentally will benefit from a new law that will allow them to move rent reg tenants into newer housing stock so that the old stuff can be torn down (no more east harlem colllapses) and big stuff will be built.

          this is going to be public taking, it will not be fair, it will have the support of media and condo owners may not be safe either.

          it is all about government control EXACTLY like Obamacare

          • You sound like a crazy person.

          • wait and see

            It’s no accident that certain politicians have been allowed to behave as brazenly biased as they have been in their bill proposals and rhetoric in NYC. Something is UP.

          • No to bullying owners

            emotionally, anyone with the power of being rent regulated gets to torture the property owner without penalty

            this is going to enable bullying all the while labeling all property owners as slumlords unless they win a mayoral election

            this whole slumlord thing needs to be checked – no one gets to abuse tenants in this manner and to this degree and with press participation as owners in New York – what does one Joel Israel have to do with the rest of us and our facts?

          • Steve

            Move to Alabama, asshole.

          • tenants can do no wrong

            I’ll probably have to since I can’t afford to travel the world on income like this:


      • forever and a day

        We do need to hear from her landlord – she might be abusing him personally and he may be sucking it up not only to collect the rent but also because she gets automatic renewals.

        Because honestly, tenants have sued landlords for tile being the wrong color (google it – the tenant lost thank god) so who knows what is going on with her tiles falling off. Tiles don’t fall off usually and if they were installed in the exact same way as in other units that don’t have the same problem then the landlord probably doesn’t want to go to court over them but feels suspicious.

        That is why NEVER sign off on tenant’s redecorating or you will be responsible for maintaining their hideous choices if they are rent regulated.

    • we need a public database

      As landlords and tenants, we have to put ourselves on blast with our real names, real rents and addresses and our documented anecdotes so we can get a clear picture of what is going on!

      Everyone wants to believe tenants are so innocent and all income property owners are Joel Israelish. It’s mean and unfair to not report precisely about what is going on.

      I didn’t raise the rent on my market rent tenant for more then ten years and we NEVER abused them or got sick of being grateful of their giving the building and neighborhood a chance because they never remorselessly damaged the unit and the building.

    • why do you live so far up?

      If you are paying over 2k in Harlem, I would have written you a multiyear lease for just under 2k if you aren’t a problem tenant. Are you REALLY paying THAT much for Harlem?

      I know their retail is $80 per square feet but seriously, 2k for harlem which is way UP there – its a looong way up there.

  • very fishy

    Why isn’t anyone proposing a bill to remove rent regulated tenants who are criminals or criminal associates when NYCHA won’t let you keep an apartment in that case?

    And why isn’t anyone proposing a bill to investigate whether rent regulated tenants can afford to pay more since affordability is the issue? Why can they claim that they can’t change the rent regulations when it involves investigating tenants but they continue to AMEND the rent regulations when it only costs the property owners?

    How is that NOT discrimination?

  • is this crony profiteering?

    “Despite the city losing out on millions of tax dollars by the delinquent HDFCs, housing advocates feel the program is worth it.

    “While most of these [re-habbed HDFC] buildings pay no or limited
    taxes after their rehabilitation, they do contribute to improving their
    neighborhoods and increasing real-estate tax assessment and collection
    [in the neighborhood],” a recent report from Citizens Housing &
    Planning Council concluded.

    Private for-profit developers wish they could get the same deal HDFCs
    get. “They don’t want to give incentives to private developers, but
    they have to give incentives to non-profits to operate in this tax
    environment,” said

    Dan Margulies, executive director of Associated Builders and Owners, a real estate group whose members own and develop housing.”

    • yiiikes

      The Post’s Menachem Stark’s slumlord articles got more traction than this bombshell. No one has reprinted this article or recirculated it or anything. Nothing on gothamist or curbed ….


  • JoeyWall

    49% of rental housing is RS or RC.

    10% falls under another “affordability” program

    Maybe that’s why the other 41% is so damn expensive.

    Join market-rate tenants discussing common sense changes to housing policy and zoning reform:

    • Jot21

      Of course that’s why market rate housing is do expensive because when do much housing is permanently off the market the balance gets squeezed. I have operated apartments in low vacancy urban areas with no rent control and we have 75% turnover in a year and we love our tenants cause the are paying market rents. Rent control only rewards people that don’t move and creates a hostile relationship between tenants and landlords cause the tenant knows the landlord is losing money on the unit every month and therefore all interaction is tainted.

      • Shame on WHO exactly?

        It doesn’t have to be like that at all. A lot of SPONYs are nice people who are traditional about old people so those types of tenants would feel safe with such a landlord. Some people actually DO have a code that they were raised with. BUT I know that my father told my mother to think of rent control as charity and to try to make income from the retail only. Unfortunately, for him and his family, what was in that rent controlled rent roll showed us that some people are remarkably expert at hiding behind an ever-aging ethnic masquerade and the tenant advocacy trend in this city provides kevlar for that type of predator.

        It’s very very interesting when third parties participate with known predators if they think no one is watching and they can get away with it. What is problematic is how the press continues to be biased in coverage – if a landlord does airbnb, he’s a greedy slumlord who wants the other units out so he can turn those units into airbnb cash cows as well but if a tenant does it, airbnb allows them to afford to pursue their dreams.

    • rebny interview
  • Organic

    all should have access to whatever is in ones building, HOWEVER owners pay monthly fees and taxes, and in comparison to most rents in a same building the owners monthlies are significantly higher. so to allow all access, great, but all is fair if a rental tenant would also have to pay common monthly charges as owners do, to access these amenities.

    • is this good for business?

      Isn’t this going to affect foreign investors if a building shares its amenities with affordable housing in light of this very loud and repeated press coverage of the Stonehenge “discrimination” and the weirdness of NYCHA experiencing a huge spike in crime?

      Wouldn’t that put off foreign investors? The hate-on for property owners is really not something you find in other countries from which investors are looking to park money in NYC.

  • FlipoutNYC

    Its a stupid idea. Why do I have to share the amenity with the people who is paying less and complaining a lot more. City Council member Mark Levine is looking for his publicity vote just like Christine Quin back in the day. what a shame

    • affordable housing obsession

      It might not be publicity. For some reason, this administration is really into affordable housing even more than universal Pre-k. It’s even affecting union negotiations:

      Here is an interesting side note:
      Judging from the negotiation team
      sent over for the pow-wow it is evident that Deblasio is extremely
      scared of what PERB would hand us. His team knows what the MTA police
      just got so it makes sense that he wants to resolve this specific
      contract by any means necessary within his budgetary constraints hence
      this grand experiment that promises the world but has no solid basis for
      success. Also keep in mind that Deblasio has plans for our pension
      money. As he has publicly stated that he will use union pension money to
      fund affordable housing for the poor. My pal senses that any contract
      resolution will tie our pension funds into the negotiations. This
      liberal Mayor wants our money and he will promise us the world in order
      to get his greedy paws on it.

      He wants the keys to the pension vault! Once
      in it,m this communist will loot it for his “share the wealth” agenda.
      The union should walk out of the negotiations and demand PERB.

      Edited 1 time by Elmo334
      Feb 11 14 2:02 PM.

      Using pension money to revitalize neighborhoods isn’t a new idea.

      If I’m correct, the pension money in 1984 was invested in SPECIFIC
      housing development. One could point to a building and say that the
      pension money helped build THAT building, and not turned over to be used
      as a bottomless pit of money to go to when every friend of the mayor
      decides to buy a plot of land to build something….then go bankrupt and
      walk away with pension money in the form of salary and benefits for the
      ‘principals’ of the development.

      The way dB has it, they want the pension money to throw at whatever
      project they want, as long as they can put the term, “affordable
      housing” in the request.

      As it stands now, the pension money may just go to prop-up the the NYC
      Housing Authority, a government agency DEEP in deficit spending, with
      little, if any, return on rents….but a LOT of “affordable housing.”

  • outlaw all discrimination

    I feel like our property assessment discriminated against us. The assessor denies it but it is really amazing how much higher we are compared to everyone else on the block. Will Mark Levine sue his administration for clear on paper bias?

  • no-permits

    this bill is nuts. does Levine realize these amenities cost money to maintain and operate? a lot of RS/RC rents don’t even cover the basic expenses like water, taxes, heat and insurance.