Thursday, July 10, 2008

Newest Newsletter!

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

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.

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.

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.

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

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,, 212-866-1616
Na’ava Ades, 212-666-9591
Joan Browne, 212-864-3612
Steve Koulish, 212-866-8280
Prudence Opperman, 212-866-9436

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