Debt-laden buildings bear down on tenants: report

Landlords look to boot rent-regulated residents of distressed properties, study finds
April 22, 2014 03:50PM

Residential building owners struggling under the weight of debt are more likely to balance their books on the backs of tenants, according to a report released Tuesday by City Councilman Dan Garodnick.

Debt is a common driver for landlords who neglect maintenance on rent-regulated properties, allowing units to fall into disrepair in an attempt to boot residents and replace them with higher-paying ones, according to the report. In roughly 10 percent of the city’s affordable housing, the buildings are slammed with 50 percent more debt than the incoming rent funds can support.

“When an owner buys a building that is saddled with too much debt, the people who feel the effects in the long run are not the owners, but the tenants of the city,” Garodnick said in a statement issued along with the report.

The report serves as the basis for Garodnick’s several suggestions to the de Blasio administration, including a doubling of the number of buildings in the city’s Alternative Enforcement Program. The move would allow distressed building owners to work with the Department of Housing Preservation and Development to make repairs. Garodnick also calls for distressed properties to be turned toward landlords with good track records, and to increase receiver oversight. [Crain’s]Julie Strickland