Saturday, June 27, 2015

Landlord Push To Drive Out Long-Time, Below-Market, Rent-Regulated Tenants Continues In NYC As Demand For Apartments Skyrockets

In New York City, The Real Deal (NYC) reports:
  • Tenant advocates claim the Orbach Group is attempting to harass and drive out lower and middle-income residents in Manhattan Valley, near Columbia University, in an effort to replace them with Columbia students and higher-income tenants.

    Orbach installed metal gates on the stoops of nearly 20 of its buildings in the neighborhood and sent letters to tenants accusing them of loitering on stoops.

    The landlord, which markets the apartments to Columbia students by offering a free campus-area shuttle bus, has reportedly challenged tenants on residency requirements in Housing Court and allegedly installed covert surveillance cameras in the properties to monitor such requirements, according to the New York Times.

    Other tactics allegedly include offers to buy out leases to tenants facing legal action, as well as the use of a private investigator to obtain information for use in Housing Court.

    Orbach’s actions have drawn scrutiny from state attorney general Eric Schneiderman, with some tenants receiving letters from Schneiderman’s office in January notifying that them of an investigation into “complaints of tenant harassment.”
Source: Orbach accused of Manhattan Valley tenant harassment (Landlord allegedly installed metal gates on stoops, hired private investigator).

See also, The New York Times: Longtime Tenants in Manhattan See an Effort to Push Them Out:
  • The Orbach Group’s methodical approach to pursuing eviction cases, even against tenants in good standing, requires such exhaustive, detailed responses that some tenants inevitably fail to properly answer motions or miss deadlines and end up losing leases, said Jason Blumberg, a lawyer with MFY Legal Services, a nonprofit that has represented several tenants in Orbach-owned buildings.

    “Part of the strategy is, you sue everybody and you get people out bit by bit, and the whole enterprise sort of pays for itself,” Mr. Blumberg said.

    It is the kind of behavior that housing activists say is common among landlords seeking to tap into the city’s heated housing market by forcing out rent-regulated tenants. And it comes as state lawmakers in Albany are negotiating rent-regulation laws that govern 1 million apartments in New York, which Mayor Bill de Blasio wants to strengthen.

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