Upper West Side tenants accuse Slate of “inhumane displacement”

Residents allege rent spikes after $120M acquisition, but Slate claims 9% average increase

UWS Tenants Accuse Slate of “Inhumane Displacement”
600 Columbus Avenue; Slate Property Group's Martin Nussbaum (Google Maps, Slate Property Group, Getty)

Some tenants at Slate Property Group’s Upper West Side apartments are accusing the owner of “inhuman displacement.”

Tenants at the 166-unit rental property at  600 Columbus Avenue complained to the West Side Rag of abrupt lease non-renewals, lease renewals at significantly higher rates or the possibility of temporary displacement for unit renovation. 

“They’re making our life hell,” one resident told the publication.

But Slate says 76 percent of tenants whose market-rate leases have come up for renewal in the past year elected to stay in the building.

Slate acquired the property just over one year ago for $120 million. At the time, David Schwartz and Martin Nussbaum’s firm appeared to score a steal, considering the property’s age and lack of rent-stabilized units, though roughly 20 percent of tenants use housing vouchers.

Residents are fearful they are being forced out of their homes said apartments that ran for $5,000 a month have soared to $8,200. It was not clear if they were referring to their own units or to newly renovated ones.

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Slate claimed in a statement “the average change to market-rate leases has been 8.6 percent after a period of no increases at all,” a figure all of the residents who spoke to the outlet said was below received rent increases.

“We believe this is the right path to keep this building safe, attractive, and welcoming, and the vast majority of residents are choosing to stay with us,” a spokesperson for the owner said. Slate is adding a gym and other amenities, and sprucing up common areas and apartments.

Slate has informed residents both that their leases won’t be renewed, and they won’t be allowed to break existing leases early, the West Side Rag reported. (Landlords rarely go after tenants who exit their leases early, though they do keep security deposits if that happens.)

Dozens of residents formed a group to explore legal strategies regarding some of Slate’s actions. Tenants rights expert Charlie Dulik has met with the group, but told West Side Rag that Slate appeared to be within its legal rights. 

Holden Walter-Warner

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