The Real Deal New York

Tenants’ “free” legal reps could cost NYC up to $256M

Cost of proposed housing court program might be twice what City Council estimates: report
December 15, 2014 04:04PM

The city could rack up an annual bill of up to $256 million to provide free legal representation to low-income tenants in Housing Court – more than double the amount estimated by City Council, according to a new report from the Independent Budget Office.

A group of more than 30 lawmakers signed onto a bill that would assign a lawyer to some renters facing eviction.

So far this year, 10 percent of tenants in this situation had legal representation, Crain’s reported. In comparison, ninety percent of landlords had counsel.

The Independent Budget Office said it expected the legal services to cost the city between $100 million and $200 million for households comprising as much as 125 percent of the federal poverty level, the publication said. The Council introduced the bill in June, as previously reported.

City Council member Mark Levine and a group of lawyers criticized the report and called for a closer look at potential cost savings. [Crain’s]Mark Maurer

  • Puzzled

    This all so that regulated tenants can get a higher buy out!!! This must be the dumbest city in the world.

    • JEng

      A lot of our favorite people were the seamstresses and steampress operators who lived in rent control housing. None of them could handle private legal representation. My dad certainly couldn’t and would get messed with by his own attorneys including having the balance due released to the architect before he got the C of O signed off. There are good lawyers out there but I won’t shout out to them because I don’t think they would appreciate it.

      But I did hear that one person walked out of a tenant advocacy firm because they wanted her to register to vote and was telling her stuff that she was incapable of doing (setting up the landlord and getting really aggressive with violations) and she wouldn’t need a tenant advocate if she was that kind of person in the first place – she ended up moving out because a family member performed a good deed – the place was being SRO’ed and there was just a general meanness in interaction.

      I think we need an income-based investigation on all regulated units and we need some kind of public database for all apartments – so we don’t get illegal sublets overcharged which invites treble damaged on the profiteering tenant but that could be passed onto the landlord if the injured subletter is corrupt and agrees with the tenant to drag the landlord into it – and airbnb – if you don’t want to show us who has been profiteering – then let’s have a public database like streeteasy where landlords can submit the rent roll for all their apartments without the names or possibly with the surnames if that is relevant to preventing illegal occupancy.

      If the cutoff is 30% of income on NYCHA – then rent regulated landlords are definitely being cheated and betrayed by the legislation.

      I have over $3000 in plumbing bills because a regulated tenant who has sabotaged in the past including blaming mopping for the removal of a cast iron radiator mopping and blaming a tilted air conditioner for damaging the apartment below – this time from cracking the pipe in the wall possibly from overzealous tightening when switching out the showerhead without our permission for one that is handheld – all of their rents for their entire year do not cover the distinct repair issues in regulated units including a hole in the ceiling above a tub where the debris in the tub does not match the material used earlier to replace that part of the ceiling – costing us a great deal again in plumbing bills to search for damaged pipes to no avail – but the water leak claim stopped – so those water leaks are actually euhemisms for the landlord’s dollar leaks – hemorrhage.

      And we have huge water bills and a tenant known for running only her hot water and even blatantly leaving a huge wok filled with water to greet the landlord timed with a water leak complaint below and her complaint about the tenant above. And she’s on tape as flooding the stairs in the middle of the night.

      We also had to pay the hot water that was being used to marinate the coca cola “Granny’s Chicken” commercial kitchen that sold their wares at a counter at 128 Mott Street where they even said that the chicken was delivered and not made on the premises of 128 Mott Street and that’s our biggest most innocent looking periodic damage maker.

      So you know – don’t punish innocent tenants – but let us establish their income because the government is absolutely doing us a huge disservice by turning a blind eye to the inappropriateness of who gets rent regulation.

      And end succession rights. I have to deal with my mother cleaning up after the family of her husband’s murderers who use the apartment as their post prison address given to their FBI handlers. It’s ridiculous. No one needs a multigenerational free ride. I’m pretty sure it helped to kill Chinatown because I can’t cover expenses without the retail space because the total of market plus regulated rents do NOT cover expenses.

      $256m is a lot of money though.


      Most of the old folks lived alone and their kids moved out and I guess that generation of Americanized Chinese weren’t that way so they didn’t or don’t keep their parents units. Everything is a character test, right?

      • JEng

        And if they have roommates regardless of whether they claim to be related – they shouldn’t qualify for SCRIE if their cash collecting custom made tailor boss runs a HUGE cash business which includes a lot of City Hall bigwigs like Mayor Dinkins.

        Count everyone’s income on the premises and don’t accept that they are jobless if they are hurrying out every morning.

        I have a very cynical and urbane rent regulated problem in these expert very English proficient entrepreneurs. They’re using multiple addresses glomming on to more than one regulated unit in the vicinity plus they purchase residential real estate and own heavily reviewed businesses indicating superior traffic but they claim to be nonowners and unemployed despite yelp reviews, despite being sued for wages and named in the lawsuit and responding to the lawsuit. They told my mother before they lawsuit oh I’m not there anymore, I’m not doing anything.

        And now SCRIE has been upped to an income level that the landlord’s combined household income does not even exceed.


        I’m not me, I’m my lookalike brother even though I am hanging out with my wife.


        I need an English translator for Red Cross emergency housing but I just showed you a driver’s license with the address of my new condo and I keep forgetting and using the word “obviously” despite demanding an expensive translator.

  • Will

    All tenants already have an lawyer on their side in housing court . . . the one sitting on the bench in a robe. No need to squander public resources hiring them a second one.

    • JEng

      A foreigner told me he couldn’t believe that I was having a hard time getting good legal representation but if I can show through a thorough audit of our records that we should qualify for free legal representation too and that our tenants cost us more than their total annual rent in sabotaged repair issues – can landlords also avail themselves of this new lawyer in Housing Court thing:

    • JEng

      This indicates that press promotnig intolerance at “hipsters” or whatever is working on judges even when the previous tenant is obviously not homeless:

      I have Santacon participants in our building and my mother thinks they are gentlemen and look adorable in their costume and she says even our most complaining tenant says they are nice and I asked that tenant specifically if she would object to their lease renewal.

      I have a lot of hate in my heart but I object to clear propaganda meant to justify and ENCOURAGE bigotry and intolerance against a targeted group as if demonstrating power and unity.

    • JEng

      I think there are a lot of out of work or newly minted attorneys who would love to do this for a living. I had a not successful attorney stutter when he wanted to raise his quoted price for a matter where I needed a lawyer for and that happened to me twice because these craigslist lawyers or google voicemail lawyers actually say even though you are not making any money you are sitting on Manhattan real estate so I feel I should be able to charge you more. You can’t get blood from stone so I can’t find a lawyer and you don’t get a job. It’s a crazy sentiment in the city these days where everyone else is charging as much as they can as if the news on this website has anything to do with the majority of real life in this city.

  • JEng

    Who’s going to pay for MORE free lawyers for tenants only?

    I don’t want there to be bullying either but there are free tenant advocate lawyers like John Gorman – or is the coveted Downtown arena the only place he represents – it’s odd that the tenant advocates aren’t all over the Bronx when they are Johnny On The Spot downtown.