Sunday, May 10, 2020

COVID, rent increases (or not), voting, and more

The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting us all.  Some tenants in this building who have had it have recovered.  Many have lost their jobs and couldn't pay the rent - some for the first time in their lives. Tenants who work in health care have been asked to extend themselves beyond human capability. Those in social work are overwhelmed by the need. Along with students, teachers are at home, leaving parents with a renewed appreciation for them. Some of our neighborhood's most vulnerable seniors (we're not aware of any in this building so far) have died alone. The challenge for us all, now, is to continue to adhere to social distancing recommendations and engage in activities that will promote and sustain us all in good physical and emotional health.  [The Park West Village Tenant Association newsletter said this well, so I've copied much of its newsletter wording.]  

Because people with no symptoms at all can spread COVID-19, PLEASE WEAR A MASK OUTSIDE YOUR APARTMENT:  The more people wear masks, the more layers between people breathing, and the more protection for people who are more vulnerable to the virus. And try to have no more than 1 person (or household) in the elevator at a time. It's a small space.  If you have an emergency and someone else is already on the elevator, please ask them to get out on your floor so you can take it. 

While the pandemic continues, the tenant association won't have any in-person meetings, and our annual Pot Luck Party will be delayed.  But the tenant association's executive committee is still available by email ( to answer your questions and concerns and read your suggestions. 

Meanwhile, there have been some legal changes that affect us (or will).

For market (unregulated) tenants (and see info about the court decision below) :
Several landlords have indicated that they intend to be flexible if tenants can't pay their rent, including not asking for major increases - but we have no information about Stellar on this. If you've had experience negotiating on this issue, please tell the tenant association about it.  

Stellar could ask you to pay more when it is time to renew your lease.  Depending on how long you have lived here, the landlord must give you a certain amount of notice if it plans to increase your rent by 5% or more or not renew your lease at all: 
  • If you've lived here for under a year, you get at least 30 day's notice.
  • If you've lived here for 1-2 years, you get 60 days' notice.
  • If you've lived here for over 2 years, you get 90 days' notice.
For rent stabilized tenants: Stellar can't raise your rent until your lease is up for renewal (or we get another Major Capital Improvement increase).  Right now, the City's Rent Guidelines Board is conducting on-line meetings  to determine how your rent will change if you renew your lease any time from October 1, 2020 through September 30, 2021.  At its preliminary vote, it proposed 
  • 1-year lease renewals:  NO increase
  • 2-year lease renewal  NO increase for the first year and 1% for the second year.
and landlords would be entitled to a similar increase on re-renting a vacant stabilized apartment.

Please send the RGB your thoughts at  The next meeting (no public testimony) will be May 27, 2020 at 9:30 AM. 

  • Listen to the meeting via telephone: dial 646-558-8656, then, when prompted, enter Meeting ID: 910 5242 0683.
You can even testify at the on-line meetings if you register by June 1st for the June 10th (9:30 AM) and June 11th (4-7 PM) sessions.  The FINAL VOTE will be on June 17 starting at 7 PM. (More details on this later.)

The NYS Court of Appeals ruled that while tenants (and their lawyers) can look back more than 4 years to find the last reliable rent stabilized rent,  tenants can't get damages for more than 4 years and (importantly for the market-rate tenants in this building) can't file overcharge claims where the apartment has been deregulated for more than 4 years .  The court said it wouldn't be fair to landlords to allow that since many haven't been keeping records for more than 4 years.

Trevor Matwey, the assistant building manager, has no firm time commitment from the contractor, but estimates that mid-June is a reasonable time period.

VOTING in the JUNE 23, 2020 PRIMARY

Who's Running:
Information on candidates (president, congress, local) and instructions for completing and returning the completed ballot can be found at:

Register to Vote:
By mail: To vote in the June 23, 2020 primary, an individual must postmark a registration application by May 29, 2020. It must be received by the BOE by June 3, 2020.

Change your address : Board of Election must receive it by June 3, 2020.

You can vote by absentee ballot.
To avoid long lines and contagion at the polls, Gov. Cuomo issued an executive order to allow all New Yorkers to vote by mail using an Absentee Ballot in the June 23, 2020 primary for the presidential election and various congressional and state legislative seats across the state. Theoretically, everyone is supposed to receive an application for an absentee ballot in the mail.  But assuming that's not the case .. . . 

Requesting an Absentee Ballot:
Online: Download an application at or from the NYS Board of Elections (BOE), in English and Spanish.
Mail: Mailing a request to the NY County Board of Elections, 200 Varick St., 10th Floor, New York, NY 10014, postmarked between May 24, 2020 and June 16, 2020. 
Phone: Call 1-866-VOTE-NYC (1-866-868-3692). The city BOE will then mail the voter a postage-paid application. 
In person: You can designate someone else to pick up an application and absentee ballot if you have a valid reason for not being able to do so personally.

Filing Your Absentee Ballot:
June 22, 2020 is the last day an absentee ballot application can be filed in person or postmarked by mail. If another person is designated to file the ballot, they must do so by June 23, 2020. A mailed ballot must be received by June 30, 2020 to count.

Early Voting:
Early voting is still scheduled to occur, from: Saturday, June 13, 2020 through Sunday, June 21, 2020. will continue to monitor the process and provide updates as they become available.