Landlords in New York City neighborhoods such as Chinatown, East Harlem and Flatbush have been increasingly offering buyouts to tenants as an alleged tool of illegal harassment. But while many residents may have yielded in the past, now they are often refusing in the face of low offers that fail to cover relocation costs.
The property managers seek to force out tenants in rapidly changing areas at the low end of the real estate market. A city law enacted in 2008 forbade a landlord from locking out a tenant, as well as the interruption of essential services, the New York Times said. Related tenant complaints filed with the Department of Housing Preservation and Development have climbed from 541 in 2012 to 748 last year.
Tenant groups told the Times that recurring buyout offers are often a way of intimidating residents, while landlord group the Rent Stabilization Association said buyouts can lead to negotiations for a better offer.
“If someone is abusive and rude, that’s one thing,” Mitchell Posilkin, general counsel for the Rent Stabilization Association told the Times. “But if someone is being persistent, that’s another.”
Samy Mahfar of Great Neck, N.Y.-based SMA Equities offered tenants buyouts ranging from $40,000 to $70,000 at a Lower East Side property. Resident Steven Yee said he would accept no less than $250,000.
“They’ve got to give you enough to buy a home because, in essence, you’re losing your home,” Yee told the Times. [NYT] — Mark Maurer