Low-income Brooklyn tenants turning down buyouts

Refusals complicate landlords' plans to transition units to market rate
May 29, 2014 11:32AM

Updated: Many low-income Brooklyn residents are turning down large buyouts because they do not see the long-term benefit of vacating rent-stabilized apartments. And the refusals are making it more difficult for landlords to transition units to market rate.

Purchasing properties for the purpose of removing rent-stabilization status has proven risky over the last decade, as some property owners find tenants unwilling to leave, the City Limits Brooklyn Bureau reported. Unable to increase rents, landlords are left with a wide spread between the income generated by the building and the mortgage taken out on it. The Brooklyn Bureau cites the example of one building in Crown Heights. The Urban Homesteading Assistance Board estimates a $1,730,000 mortgage would be sustainable, but the current mortgage on that property is $5 million.

With tenants refusing buyouts, some landlords are taking aggressive measures, such as temporarily relocating tenants, ostensibly to renovate their apartments, and then locking them out.

The Department of Housing and Preservation assigns properties that generate numerous tenant complaints to its Alternate Enforcement Program, which pays up-front repair costs the agency deems necessary and then bills the owner. [City Limits Brooklyn Bureau]Tom DiChristopher

(This is a corrected version of an earlier story)