Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Has your Assembly Member sent a letter like A.M. O'Donnell's to Speaker Silver?

Don't let J-51 be renewed with tenant protections!

Ask your Assembly Member to send a letter like the one by Assembly Member Daniel O'Donnell to Speaker Sheldon Silver.  Read it below.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Tenant Protections Still Pending in Albany

Albany's legislative business is still not completed - and tenant protections hang in the balance.  

Please tip the balance in our favor.  

Find who represents you  and 


Tell them that 
J-51 should not be renewed or extended without these tenant protections:
  • Capping MCIs (Major Capital Improvements):  A2459-A (Cal 445) O’Donnell / S523a Krueger, L. 
  • Protecting preferential rent tenants from huge increases:   A1364-A (Cal 442) Jeffries
  • Putting rent controlled tenants under the Rent Guidelines Boar:,  A1892-A (Cal 444) Rosenthal, L./S5699a Espaillat
  • Reforming the Rent Guidelines Board:  A7234a (RR 93) Rosenthal / S5603a Espaillat 
Finally, ask them NOT to approve A10798 (Lopez et al.) about tax breaks for landlords.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Rent Guidelines 2012 Order: Partial Victory for Tenants

Having plied the Rent Guidelines Board with information, chants, signs, and a rally, tenants won a partial victory with the lowest stabilized rent increases in many years. 

If your lease renewal goes into effect any time from October 1, 2012 through September 30, 2013, you must pay an increase based on the June 21, 2012 RGB order.  How much of an increase depends on what the current rent is.

If your current rent is $1000 or more, you will pay
  • 2% increase for a 1-year lease renewal
  • 4% increase for a 2-year lease renewal.
But if your current rent is less than $1000, you will pay   
  • $20 increase for a 1-year lease renewal
  • $40 increase for a 2-year lease renewal.
The Rent Guidelines Board (RGB) has imposed this "poor tax" so that tenants whose rents are below $1000 - usually older tenants who've been in their homes longer will pay higher increases.  

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Be at the Rent Guidelines Bd. Final Vote - & Tenant Rally - Thurs.,June 21

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Tell Sheldon Silver: No J-51 renewal without tenant protection

Call Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver today: 
Don't renew J-51 without tenant protections! 
Tell his aide that you're part of the Real Rent Reform Campaign - or one of its member organizations. 

518-455-3791 or 212-312-1420

Landlords desperately want renewal of J-51, a tax break they get for making major building repairs.  But they want it renewed without tenant protections - and tenants need more protection, not less.

So call!   You can download the "Click and Save" in English or in Spanish.   

Click on "read more" below for the Gotham Gazette excerpt. 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

What's up in Albany?

The State Assembly is voting on a package of rent regulation bills that include many of those in R3's legislative proposal.   

2012 Rent Regulation Package

Landlord Hardship Rent Increase
A2881 (RR 78) Kavanagh
Same as S1298 Duane
Extends from 3 to 6 years the time a building must be owned in order to qualify for an alternative hardship exemption from rent regulation

Landlord Use
A3033 (RR 44) V Lopez
Same as S81 Squadron Limits a landlord's ability to take possession of units for their own primary residence to cases of immediate and compelling necessity, permit recovery of only one unit, and restrict such ability if the tenant has occupied the apartment for twenty or more years

MCI capped
A2459-A (Cal 445) O’Donnell Same as S523a Krueger, L.
Codifies the MCI (major capital improvement) as a surcharge to the legal regulated rent which is separately designated and billed as such, and mandates that the authorized surcharge for MCI's ceases after the cost of the improvement is recouped

Former Mitchell-Lamas rent stabilized; retroactive & prospective.
A2750-A (Cal 448) Pretlow
No equivalent bill in the Senate.
Includes former Mitchell Lama buildings that have undergone a voluntary dissolution under the protection of the rent stabilization law, regardless of the date of initial occupancy

Preferential Rents A1364-A (Cal 442) Jeffries
No equivalent bill in the Senate.
Prohibits an owner from adjusting a preferential rent upon the renewal of a lease

Rent control
A1892-A (Cal 444) Rosenthal
Same as S5699a Espaillat
Makes rent controlled apartments subject to the same formula for calculating rent as rent stabilized apartments

RGB Limitation 
A7234a (RR 93) Rosenthal
Same as S5603a Espaillat
Prohibits a Rent Guidelines Board from adjusting rent in the absence of legislative authorization

Former Sec.8 projects become rent stabilized
A2994 (Cal 449) V Lopez /span>
Same as S580 Klein Includes former Section 8 projects (including those built after 1973) in the types of multiple dwellings that are covered by the New York City Rent Stabilization Law

Statute of Limitations for de-regulation 
A1682 (RR43) Jeffries
Same as S57 Squadron
Provides that the statute of limitations period for challenging deregulation of a rent-regulated apartment and claim of  overcharge  is  tolled  if  the landlord fails to file and serve the appropriate notice. 

Vacancy Decontrol
A2430a (RR 138) Rosenthal
Same as S1193a Stewart-Cousins
Repeals Provisions of New York State and New York City statutes that remove apartments from rent stabilization or rent control when such apartments are vacated and could be rented under such statutes for monthly rents of $2,000 or more.

Vacancy increase reduced
A2593-A (Cal 446) V Lopez
No equivalent bill in the Senate.
Decreases from twenty percent to ten percent the amount a landlord could increase rent upon vacancy

Rent Guidelines Board: Testify!

Rent Guidelines Board hearings 
There are 2 hearings left and then the final vote and tenant rally.
Wed., June 13 at 4 PM  at
Repertory Theatre of Hostos
Community College/CUNY
450 Grand Concourse
Bronx, NY 10451

Monday, June 18, 2012 at 10:00 AM at
The Great Hall at Cooper Union
7 East 7th Street, at corner of 3rd Ave.
New York, NY 10003

FINAL VOTE (no testimony)
Thursday, June 21, 2012 at 5:30 PM
The Great Hall at Cooper Union
New York, NY 10003

Click here for a flyer in English.

Click here for a flyer in Spanish. 

Registration of speakers is required. 
Pre-register for the June 13 hearing in the Bronx at (212) 385-2934 until 1:00 P.M. on Tuesday, June 12, 2012.
Pre-register for the June 18 hearing in Manhattan at (212) 385-2934 until 1:00 P.M. on Friday, June 15, 2012.

An exact time for speaking cannot be provided, but those pre-registering will be informed of their number on the list of pre-registered speakers when they call the above listed phone number.
Written requests for pre-registration must be received at 

Rent Guidelines Board
51 Chambers Street, Room 202
New York, NY, 10007

before 1:00 P.M. on Tuesday, June 12 for the June 13 hearing and before 1:00 P.M. on Friday, June 15 for the June 18 hearing. Those who have not preregistered or need to re-register can register at the hearing location from 4:15 PM until 7:00 PM at the June 13 hearing and from 9:45 AM until 6:00 PM at the June 18.

To request that a sign language interpreter or other form of reasonable accommodation for a disability be provided at a hearing, notify Ms. Charmaine Superville at the Rent Guidelines Board (212) 385-2934, 51 Chambers Street, Room 202, New York, NY 10007 by Thursday, June 7, 2012 at 4:30 PM.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Wed.., June 13 in Chinatown: CAAAV Rally

Stand in Solidarity with 11 Allen Street Residents Fighting For Their Homes!

CAAAV in Chinatown is holding a rally this Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Meet at the CAAAV office at

8:30 AM at 46 Hester St. in Manhattan or 
9:30 AM at the Manhattan Housing Court, 111 Centre St.  

To RSVP for the action, please email Esther at with
the subject “RSVP 11 Allen Action.”

For more information, click on "read more" below. 

Monday, June 11, 2012

Brooklyn Tenants: Rally for Stronger Rent Laws

Come to a

Press Conference & Rally 

Calling for Tenant Protections and Housing Justice

Tuesday, June 12th 1:00 PM
266 Washington Ave
between Dekalb St. and Willoughby Streets

Click here for a flyer. 

Last year, our rent laws were renewed and even strengthened, but we are still facing unfair rent increases and displacement pressures. Many landlords are using every loophole available to raise our rents and it’s time to say, “enough!” As a community, as a borough, as a city, and as a state, we are coming together to say we need stronger rent laws NOW!

This press conference is being sponsored by the Pratt Area Community
Council, Make the Road New York, the Association for Neighborhood and
Housing Development, New York Communities for Change and Tenants &

For more information, please contact Jennifer Watkins at PACC:
718-522-2613 ext. 032.

Co-sponsored by
Flatbush Tenant Coalition
Fifth Avenue Committee
Make the Road NY
Neighbors Helping Neighbors
Pratt Area Community Council
Real Rent Reform Campaign
and more!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

When rent laws are not strong - or not enforced . . .

Tenants suffer when rent regulations are not enforced.  Two hundred tenants at 2400 Webb Avenue  - a rent-regulated building - were forced to relocate when their landlord had the fire escapes removed to repair brickwork. 

Tenant protections must be stronger - both written into the law in Albany and in enforcement by the City's Department of Housing Preservation and Development (one of whose inspectors approved removal of the fire escapes - in the absence of any other fire protection); and the State's Housing Community  Renewal.  One R3 organization, Tenants & Neighbors, is working to get our laws enforced. Print out and sign one of their postcards to Governor Cuomo to beef up the enforcement unit. 

Friday, June 8, 2012

Protest Unaffordable Rent Increases

and make your voice heard at the June 13 and June 18 RGB public hearings.

J-51 matters.

Tell Sheldon Silver, "Just say NO to J-51 renewal - unless tenant protections are seriously strengthened." 

J-51 is a tax benefit program for owners making major repairs to their buildings.  Owners get these tax breaks for a period of years - during which tenants become rent regulated, and those who are already regulated must remain so.  The J-51 program was intended to help the residents and owners of poorer buildings make these crucial repairs. That's the good news. 

But landlords want the bill renewed without strengthening the rent laws, and with a provision that would let them pay back the tax benefits in exchange for being able to de-regulate apartments (ousting the tenants who happen to live in them).  And the City is losing millions of dollars in tax revenue. 

The Community Service Society has written a clear report, Upgrading Private Property at Public Expense.  The NYS Legislature should take notice: When the "three men in a room" (Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Senate Speaker Dean Skelos, and Governor Andrew Cuomo) meet to determine which bills will actually be voted out of which committee and become law,  they should know that New Yorkers care.  Tenants should not lose their homes as the city loses its stock of affordable housing.  Below is the first paragraph:

Since 1955, New York State and New York City law 
have provided for tax benefits to certain property   
owners who rehabilitate buildings for residential use. 
This tax break, known as “J-51” for its former location in 
the New York City Administrative Code, currently benefits 
more than a third of the dwelling units in the city in the type 
of building to which it is primarily targeted, those with ten 
or more units. It is one of the city’s most expensive housing     
programs, amounting to $256.6 million in tax expenditures   
for 2011.
While landlords are fighting to renew J-51 and make it more owner-friendly, tenants need more, not less protection from this year's state legislature. That protection includes reform of the Rent Guidelines Board, a cap on Major Capital Improvement increases, and protection from huge rent increases for preferential rent tenants and those in rent controlled apartments (those built before 1947).   
So tell Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver to "Just Say No" to J-51 renewal unless there are strong tenant protections not only for J-51 itself but for all tenants. 

Overflowing Crowd at the Tenant Town Hall

Photo by Tenants & Neighbors
There was an overflow crowd at the June 7th Tenant Town Hall. Tenants from the Lower East Side, Washington Heights, the Bronx, the West Side, and even the Upper East Side of Manhattan perched on the stairs and in the balcony of the auditorium once the seats filled, and then filled Hartley Hall's backyard, listening from a speaker rigged up as the crowd grew.  

Tenants spoke movingly of their experiences - and the need for this legislative session to pass bills that will 
With several elected officials there, including Assembly Members Dick Gottfried and Linda Rosenthal, and State Senator Tom Duane, tenants made clear that we need these reforms now - and what we don't need is J-51 renewal as is.  (See the excellent Community Service Society report on J-51.)  
As Council Member Tish James said, "Without rent regulation New York City loses. Rent regulation is what keeps our communities   diverse and viable. Our middle class and working class citizens are the core of our city, we must protect families who have lived here for generations.” 

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Tenant Town Hall - TONIGHT! Thurs., June 7, 2012

Tired of soaring rents?
Need stronger tenant protections NOW?

Come to a
Town Hall Meeting
on Tenants’ Rights and
Housing Affordability!

Thursday June 7th @ 6:30pm
Hartley House in Manhattan

Click here for a flyer in English
Click here for a flyer in Spanish . Spanish translation will be provided at the Town Hall. 

For more info and RSVP contact Bennett Baumer, HCC Organizer; 212-716-1659 |