Rent Wars: Next Big Landlord-Tenant Battle Takes Shape

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Building photo via PropertyShark.

    After years of legal wrangling and inflammatory sign-making, the rent-stabilized tenants of East Village tenement building 47 East 3rd Street departed their longtime digs so their new landlord could convert the building into a single-family mansion. Now it's set to happen again, only this time there's a curve ball: politicos! The Villager reports that the owner of 19-21 Barrow Street—known to romantics as "that building next to One if By Land..."—is trying to empty the place after purchasing it for $3.4 million last summer. Like East 3rd Street, the speculation is that the landlord intends to eventually flip the property after booting the rent-stabilized tenants. Saying, "This is a loophole that allows multimillion-dollar 'McMansions' at cut rates on the backs of affordable-housing tenants,” State Senator Daniel Squadron is trying to push a bill that closes that loophole. He whiffed on the first attempt.

    Because this topic has veered into political coverage, we'll let the experts handle it. Take it away, Villager:

    A bill to end so-called "mass evictions" — employed to empty entire buildings, allegedly for landlords' personal use — failed to come up for a vote in a special session of the state Senate last week. A disappointed Daniel Squadron, the bill's prime sponsor, said he’ll keep pushing the legislation, and that it definitely will come to the floor for a vote, at the latest, early next year — if not sooner, hopefully, in another special session.

     

    The bill would restrict owner-occupancy evictions to a single dwelling unit, to be used as the landlord’s primary residence. Under what Squadron and the bill’s supporters call a “loophole” in the current law, landlords are allowed to take “one or more” apartments for their personal use — basically giving them carte blanche to empty their buildings completely of tenants.

    The bill was one vote short of being called up by State Senate leadership, but on January 1 a new measure goes into effect that makes it slightly easier to bring up a bill for a vote. Too late to help out the Barrow Street tenants? Not if the snail's pace of the East 3rd Street battle is any indication.
     

     

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