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Landlords of rent-stabilized units fail to make repairs

With space in high-demand, New York City is known for its soaring buildings and rental prices. In March, Bloomberg Business reported that the average New York City one-bedroom apartment now fetches upwards of $3,400 per month while studios, many of which more closely resemble large closets than actual habitable dwellings, run an average of $2,350 per month.

City renters first noticed steep increases in rental prices during the late 1960s. In response, the city enacted rent stabilization laws in 1969 which protect tenants in designated rent stabilized buildings and units from sharp rent increases and preserves their right to renew leases with only a two percent increase in rent. However, in the event a tenant of a rent-stabilized apartment moves out, the landlord "is allowed to raise rent by 20 percent before new tenants more in."

This caveat to the rent-stabilization laws means that it is clearly in a landlord's best interest if there are high turnover rates and tenants only remain in a unit for one or two years. Consequently, there are reports throughout Manhattan of plotting landlords who continually ignore complaints from tenants and allow buildings to fall into disrepair in attempts to get rid of tenants who are in rent-stabilized units.

This is exactly, say the residents at one Upper Manhattan apartment building, what their landlord is currently attempting to do. As of the end of last month, tenants of the 26-unit building had filed "53 complaints with New York City's Department of Housing Prevention and Development." Among the complaints are of no hot water or heat, broken windows, broken or missing smoke detectors and cracked and broken pavement.

While we noted that monthly rental costs for one-bedroom units in the city have soared to a few thousand dollars per month, tenants of rent stabilized units may pay as little as $300 to $500 per month. New York City tenants, who are dealing with negligent and unresponsive landlords and who have suffered injuries as a result, would be wise to consult with an attorney.

Source: Columbia Spectator, "Upper Manhattan tenants say landlord's desire to increase rents is behind slow repairs," Nicole Orttung and Laura Garcell Nimylowycz, Oct. 30, 2015

New York City Rent Guidelines Board, "Rent Stabilization FAQ," Nov. 16, 2015

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