Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Electric Bills HIGH: Quadlogic's explanation

From Quadlogic's Dean Barlow
Dean M Barlow
Director Client Services
212-930-9300 ext 201 :
____________________________

I have attached an analysis of the Electric Rates used at 50 West 97th St for the past 6 months.

I have also attached the documentation that we use to calculate such rates.

There are two charges for the electric power, one from Con Edison for "T & D" [transportation from the energy provider to the building] and another from Hudson Energy for the actual " kWh's" [kilowatt hours] used.

You will note that the calculated rates are based on exactly what Stellar pays for the power.
There are no mark-ups or other amounts added to the bills.

In the period 06-3-08 to 07-02-08 (the month of June 2008) you see a large increase of 29%. This is because, in the summer months, Con Edison is allowed to charge a premium for electric power.

You will also see that the Tenants usage will increase significantly due to the use of air conditioners ... this June was very hot and the usage in all 200 buildings we bill electric for is way up.

It would be a good idea for the Tenants to go to the Con Edison website and look at the conservation ideas that are presented there.

Our meters are working accurately .... people are just using more energy.


Dean

Dean M Barlow
Director Client Services
212-930-9300 ext 201


FROM
To
#
Days
KwH
Con Ed
(transp.)
Hudson
Energy
Total
Price per
KwH
1/2/08
2/4/08
34
4141,600
$5,662.37
$22,198.33
$22,861.20
$0.1968
2/4/08
3/5/08
30
129,600
$4,493.23
$19,271.63
$23,764.86
$0.1834
3/5/08
4/3/08
29
117,600
$6,759.59
$12,646.78
$19,406.37
$0.1650
4/3/08
5/2/08
2929
109,200
$7,128.52
$12,483.21
$19,611.73
$0.1796
5/2/08
6/3/08
3232
122,400
$7,558.34
$15,856.86
$23,415.20
$0.1913
6/3/08
/2/08
2929
156,000
$13,071.13
$25,536.11
$38,607.24
$0.2475

Electric bills HIGH

The submetering electric bills for the month of June (meter reading on July 2, 2008) are extremely high.

Some increases are expected: there was one Con Ed rate increase in April 2008, and another 22% increase for the summer months. In addition, we had a record-breaking heat wave in June, with temperatures 20 degrees above normal, so many of us ran our air conditioners for days at a time.

But we need to check both the rates (we should get a sheet shortly from Quadlogic) and whether the kilowatt hours (KwH) that are claimed are really on our meters. Try to read your meter once a month on the meter reading day to keep track.

The meter reading dates are:
July 2,
August 1
September 2
September 30 or October 1
October 30, and
December 3rd.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Predatory Equity

"Predatory Equity" is a serious problem: Private equity companies buy up affordable apartment buildings. They promise their investors returns that are impossible unless the rents are raised - and that means ousting the rent regulated tenants. The P.I.E. Campaign* of which our tenants association is a member, has gotten our legislators to write to the State's Comptroller: Stop investing our money to destroy affordable housing. Click here to read the letter signed by over 40 state legislators.

The letter cites Stellar Management as one of the major companies buying up affordable housing to make it unaffordable.

*P = Protection for tenants
I = Incentives for landlords to stay in Mitchell-Lama
E = Enforcement of the law

Saturday, July 19, 2008

NY Times Q&A on Rent Stabilization

The New York Times has had 4 Question & Answer columns recently on rights under rent stabilization. Click on the words "New York Times" for the link. Virtually all of these answers can also be found on the Rent Guidelines Board's own website, which has a section for Frequently Asked Questions and includes Fact Sheets from the state's Division of Housing & Community Renewal (DHCR).

Thursday, July 17, 2008

New Buidling Manager

Linda Daniel is replacing Hezi Mizrahi as building manager for this building, Columbus Manor, Westview, and Town House West Apartments.

The telephone number remains the same: 212-222-4430.

Her e-mail is ldaniel@stellarmanagement.com

Thursday, July 10, 2008


CENTRAL PARK GARDENS TENANTS' ASSOCIATION
N E W S L E T T E R
J
une 10, 2008

RENT GUIDELINES BOARD VOTES BIG INCREASES FOR RENT STABILIZED LEASES RENEWED BETWEEN OCT. 1, 2008 AND SEPT. 30, 2009

Rent Stabilized tenants who renew their leases any time from October 1, 2008 through September 30, 2009 will get rent increases:
  • 2-year lease: the higher of 8.5% or $85
  • 1-year lease: 4.5% or $45
If you receive a lease renewal form that lists a $45 or $85 increase (for those whose rent is under $1000 and who have lived in their apartment for 6 years or more), DON'T SIGN IT YET.


It is possible that the $45 and $85 increases do not apply to apartments that were in Mitchell-Lama 6 years ago. So wait as long as you can (you have 60 days) in case DHCR rules we are protected.


Legal Aid attorney Ellen Davidson suggests that the safest is for a tenant to sign
the lease and return it to the building owner along with a letter explaining why the increase is illegal:
While those in rent stabilized apartments for 6 years or more may be subject to an increase of $85 (for 2-year leases) or $45 (for 1-year leases), that may well not apply to us since we only became rent stabilized in 2005.

Then if we win on this point, tenants can apply to DHCR for an overcharge.


If you have already filed your lease renewal for a lease term beginning October 1, 2008, and we win on this point, you can apply to DHCR for an overcharge.


Tenants from Central Park Gardens joined the protest against the high increases on June 19th - but this decision comes from City Hall, and as the Real Rent Reform (R3)Campaign notes, the deck is stacked against us. The R3 flyer says:

The Mayor appoints the RGB members without City Council input.

The Rent Guidelines Board sets increases without examining landlords' profits, so that when the price of oil goes up, the landlords get a high increase even if they're making money hand over fist. This year, the price of oil has gone up, but so have landlords' profits.

The Mayor engineers the final vote. While the public expects the RGB to debate issues and hash out their differences in public, the actual vote is planned behind the scenes by the chair. The two tenant members, Adriene Holder and Ron Languedoc, do a great job - but they have only two votes. They and the two landlord members do all the debating. But on the day of hte vote, Chairman Markus proposes a guideline and all of the public members vote for it - no debate, no re-voting - that is it! How do they come to the number? No one knows - even though the Open Meeting Law requires deliberations to be in public.

So we need some new rent stabilization laws - laws that will not permit landlords with violations to get increases; that will base rent adjustments on actual landlord expenses and incomes; that would make rent stabilized tenants "statutory tenants" - with no need for annual lease renewal; and that would more failry balance the Rent Guidelines Board's membership. (As it happens, the Duane/Latimer bill would do all this.

Save Wednesday, October 1st for a
Real Rent Reform Rally

(time and place to be announced).




_______________________________

SUBMETERING COMPLAINTS:
If you have not yet picked up your "received" copy, contact Na'ava at 212-666-9591.

__________________________________

WINDOW BLINDS - Fran Schiff of Stellar Management claims that Stellar provides window blinds - even though they have not since taking over the building. So if you are in rent stabilization and need your blinds repaired or replaced, please contact Linda Daniel - and then tell a member of the Executive Committee the result. If no blinds, we'll file a complaint with the state's Division of Housing & Community Renewal (DHCR).
__________________________________

BE A GOOD NEIGHBOR:
  • Close the building's front doors.
  • Gently remind those you see near the front planters that coffee and cigarette butts will kill the plants.
  • Close your own door gently. If it often slams, ask Santiago Modesto ("Ito") to fix it so it cannot slam.
___________________________________

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS - See that section on the right-hand side of this website!
________________________________

SAD NEWS:
Condolences to Vernon Smith, whose wife of 38 years, Lillian Raby Smith, died on June 27th. And condolences to Dorienne Tsukuda on the death of her father.
___________________________________


THE LOCAL BUZZ


Robin Smalls is interested in starting a dance-exercise class in the Community Room for tenants. If you are interested in helping or participating, please contact Robin or Sue.

Congratulations to Prudence Opperman and Irvarita Watson who recently
celebrated their birthdays with neighbors and friends, and to

Barbara Geller on her 2 certificates - with honors! - from the Cornell Extension Program on Urban Horticulture & Ecology, and from the NY Botanical Gardens: Landscape Design.

Late tenant Margaret Williams was honored by Friends House, which dedicated a library to her on June 25th. Friends House is a Quakerk-sponsored community of and for people living with AIDS. Margaret was a long-time board member and contributor there.


The Executive Committee
Sue Susman, president
Joan Browne,
treasurer & vice president
Na'ava Ades,
vice president
Steve Koulish,
vice president
Prudence Opperman,
vice president

Newest Newsletter!

Click here for the pdf version of our latest newsletter - or read it below.


CENTRAL PARK GARDENS TENANTS’ ASSOCIATION
NEWSLETTER – JULY 15, 2008
www.cpgta.blogspot.com
RENT GUIDELINES BOARD VOTES BIG INCREASES FOR RENT STABILIZED LEASES RENEWED BETWEEN OCT. 1, 2008 and SEPT. 30, 2009.
Rent stabilized tenants who renew their leases any time from Oct. 1, 2008 to Oct. 1, 2009 will get rent increases:
2-year lease: 8.5%
1-year lease: 4.5%
 If you receive a lease renewal form that lists a $45 or $85 increase (for those whose rent is under $1000 and who have lived in their apartment for 6 years or more), don’t sign it yet. Wait until the last moment (you have 60 days) because we may get a ruling from DHCR that the "alternative" $45 (for 1-year lease renewals) or $85 (for 2-year lease renewals) does not apply to our building. That is because when the Rent Guidelines Board said apartments must pay the "alternative" (higher!) amount if their rent was under $1000 and there had been no "vacancy lease" for the previous 6 years -- we think that applied only to buildings that were actually in rent stabilization 6 year ago. Our building was in Mitchell-Lama 6 years ago.

One possibility:
1. Fill out your lease renewal form, and submit it with a letter stating your understanding that the alternative increase does not apply to your apartment. Send it by certified mail, return receipt requested (keep a copy!) to Stellar.
2. If you are willing to go to court about it, get DHCR Form RA 90 (call 1-866-275-3427) and send 1 copy to DHCR and 1 to Stellar (both by certified mail, return receipt requested of course) and keep a copy for yourself.

Tenants from Central Park Gardens joined the protest against the high increases on June 19th – but this decision comes from City Hall, and as the Real Rent Reform Campaign notes, the deck is stacked against tenants.
Their flyer says:


The Mayor appoints the RGB members without City Council input.
The Rent Guidelines Board sets increases without examining landlords’ profits, so that when the price of oil goes up, the landlords get a high increase even if they’re making money hand over fist. This year, the price of oil has gone up, but so have landlords’ profits.
The mayor engineers the final vote. While the public expects the RGB to debate issues and hash out their differences in public, the actual vote is
planned behind the scenes by the chair. The two tenant members, Adriene Holder
and Ron Languedoc, do a great job – but they have only two votes. They and the two landlord members do all the debating. But on the day of the vote, Chairman Markus proposes a guideline and all of the public members vote for it – no debate, no re-voting – that is it! How do they come to the number? No one knows – even though the Open Meetings Law requires deliberations to be in public.

And then the Mayor says the vote is fair. The landlord members will tell reporters that the increases are too low and the tenant members will say the increases are too high and the public members will say little or nothing. The mayor will say that both the owners and the tenants are unhappy, so the increases must be fair. In fact, the mayor engineers the vote by picking a number and getting the chair to twist the arms of the other public members to vote for it. How can it be fair if the RGB always passes rent hikes, even when landlords’ expenses go down?

So we need some new rent stabilization laws – laws that will not permit landlords with violations to get rent increases; that will base rent adjustments on actual landlord expenses and incomes; that would make rent stabilized tenants “statutory tenants” – with no need for annual lease renewals; and that would more fairly balance the Rent Guidelines Board’s membership. (As it happens, the Duane/Latimer bill would do all this.)



Save Wednesday, October 1st for a Real Rent Reform Rally. (Time, place to be announced.)

SUBMETERING COMPLAINTS If you have not yet picked up your “received” copy, contact Na’ava at 212-666-9591.


WINDOW BLINDS – Fran Schiff of Stellar Management claims that Stellar provides window blinds – even though they have not since taking over the building. So if you are in rent stabilization and need your blinds repaired or replaced, please contact Carlos – and then tell a member of the Executive Committee the result. If no blinds, we’ll file a complaint with DHCR.


BE A GOOD NEIGHBOR
Close the building’s front doors.
Gently remind those you see near the front planters that coffee and cigarette butts will kill the plants.


Close your own door gently. If it often slams, ask Santiago Modesto (also known as “Ito”) to fix it so it cannot slam.


FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Can I get SCRIE or DRIE? Only rent stabilized tenants can get either here.
• If you are 62 or older, your household income is up to $28,000, and the rent is now (or will be with your next lease renewal) 1/3 or more of your income, apply for the Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption. Contact an Executive Committee member or go to One Stop on 97th & Amsterdam (above CVS).
• If you are disabled – at any age – according to Social Security or the Veterans Administration, and your income is up to $18,396 per year if you live alone, or $26,460 if you live with any others, and your rent is now (or will be with your next lease renewal) 1/3 or more of your income, apply for the Disabled Rent Increase Exemption. Call 311 for an application.

LEASE RENEWALS – What information must I give the landlord? You are not required to give the landlord information about your job. Provide the names of people living with you to help them get the apartment should something happen to you – or you leave it.


Always send a lease renewal by certified mail, return receipt requested – but if you are subject to the $45 or $85 increase (if your new lease starts any time from Oct. 1, 2008 to Sept. 30, 2009), Michael McKee of Tenants PAC suggests sending in DHCR Form RA 90 instead (also by certified mail, with the original to DHCR and a copy to Stellar).


REPAIRS – Write what you need in the book at the guard’s desk. To contact Hezi, call 212-222-4430.

SAD NEWS
Condolences to Vernon Smith, whose wife of 38 years, Lillian Raby Smith, died on June 27th.

THE LOCAL BUZZ
Congratulations to Prudence Opperman and Irvarita Watson who recently celebrated their birthdays with neighbors and friends, and to Barbara Geller on her 2 certificates - with honors - from the Cor-nell Extension Program on Urban Horticulture & Ecology, and from the NY Botanical Gardens: Landscape Design.


Late tenant Margaret Williams was honored by Friends House, dedicated a library to her on June 25th. Friends House is a Quaker-sponsored community of and for people living with AIDS. Margaret was a long-time Board member there.



The Executive Committee
Sue Susman, sue@janak.org, 212-866-1616
Na’ava Ades, 212-666-9591
Joan Browne, 212-864-3612
Steve Koulish, 212-866-8280
Prudence Opperman, 212-866-9436

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Lease Renewal? WAIT!

IF

  • your rent is under $1000

    and

  • your lease is up for renewal after September 30, 2008 and before October 1, 2009

WAIT BEFORE SIGNING THE RENEWAL FORM.


Why? Because:


As you know, the Rent Guidelines Board voted that for leases starting from October 1, 2008 through September 30, 2009, increases will be

  • 4.5% for a 1-year lease
  • 8.5% for a 2-year lease

EXCEPT THAT where there has been no "vacancy lease" for 6 years or longer -- that is, where you have lived in that rent stabilized apartment for 6 years or more -- and the rent is under $1000, the owner is entitled to a larger increase of $45 for a 1-year lease and $85 for a 2-year lease.


There is a legal question about whether the term "vacancy lease" can even apply to former Mitchell-Lamas since it is a term of art referring to rent stabilization.


Since our building left Mitchell-Lama and entered rent stabilization in 2005 - less than 6 years ago - no one in our building has lived in a rent stabilized apartment for 6 years.


The Real Rent Reform Campaign and the P.I.E. Campaign will be challenging the applicability of the "6 year" clause to buildings that weren't even in rent stabilization 6 years ago.


BUT: If you have just received your lease renewal form, you do have respond. (If you don't file any response, you could lose your apartment!).


Attorney Ellen Davidson of Legal Aid suggests that for safety, tenants fill in and return their lease renewals accompanied by a letter stating their objection. Here's one way to do it: "I object to this lease renewal since my apartment was not in rent stabilization six years ago and therefore could not have had a 'vacancy lease.'"


If you have already submitted a lease renewal for a lease that begins any time from October 1, 2008 through September 30, 2009, and if we win on this legal point, you will be able to file an overcharge complaint to the state's Division of Housing & Community Renewal (DHCR) to try to get the money back.


Stay posted for developments on this.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Will Stellar provide window blinds?

Contrary to the practice since Stellar took over the building, Francine Schiff of Stellar Management asserts that "we have always maintained the repair and replacement of the window blinds as requested by each tenant." Since that has not been tenants' experience from the minute that the property manager cut off repair and replacement of window blinds, tenants are giving Stellar a chance to bear out Ms. Schiff's assertion. A copy of her letter has been given to Hezi Mizrahi (the building manager who is on vacation this week) and to superintendent Carlos Martinez.

If your blinds are broken, please contact Hezi at his office: 212-222-4430.

If Stellar does NOT provide and repair window blinds for rent stabilized tenants, we will complain to DHCR.

The rent stabilization law does not permit a building owner to reduce significant services that existed before the building entered rent stabilization - unless tenants get a rent decrease.

If you need your window blinds repaired or replaced, please contact Hezi and let someone on the Executive Committee of the tenants' association know the result.