Can You Really Claim Two Rent Controlled Apartments?

In an item that belongs in the “Only in New York” column, the NY Post reports that a caretaker is laying claim to a deceased couple’s $291 per month, three bedroom, rent controlled apartment even though the caretaker resides in a $747 per month rent controlled studio in Gramercy Park.

You can’t blame the caretaker for trying to improve her situation – after all, if she is successful, she could legally rent out extra bedrooms for a tidy profit—but you would think her chances of success were slim. However, the City’s courts have ruled, in certain circumstances, that rent stabilized tenants may lay claim to more than one apartment so, you never know. This is New York City, after all.

                                                    – Jack Freund, Executive Vice President, Rent Stabilization Association 

(Views and opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of the RSA.)


Caretaker fights for $291-a-month rent-controlled pad


An East Village woman claims she can take over a $291-per-month rent-controlled three-bedroom apartment because she tended to its two elderly inhabitants for four years — even though she’s not related to them.

Now the landlord is trying to boot her.

Margaret Hearn, 48, began living at 345 E. 12th St. in 2008, when she became a full-time caretaker for sisters Margaret and Josephine Ruta, whom she met at church.

Josephine died in March. Margaret died last year.

When Hearn returned from Josephine’s funeral, the apartment was padlocked. Her brother cut the lock, and she has moved in.

Margaret Hearn

Margaret Hearn

“I was emotional. I had just been to a funeral, and I felt I was losing it, and this happened,” Hearn said, adding the landlord “wants to remodel the apartment and charge more.”

Similar pads in the building go for $4,400 in rent.

Hearn — who also keeps a rent-controlled $747-a-month studio in Gramercy Park — says the landlord, 339-347 East 12th Street Investor LLC, filed to evict her in May 2012.

Phillip Wartell, a lawyer for the landlord, did not return calls.


Source: New York Post

‘Ruined’ by rent control

Ny Post

‘Ruined’ by rent control

Landlords may lose home


Posted:2:37 AM, May 6, 2012

The lawsuit that almost overturned the city’s rent-control laws only succeeded in upending the lives of the Upper West Side couple who brought the case.

After the Supreme Court refused to hear New York’s highest-profile lawsuit challenging rent control, landlords James and Jeanne Harmon said they may have to sell the five-story town house at the center of the battle — a brownstone their family has called home for three generations.

James HarmonHELAYNE SEIDMAN                                                                             CRY POVERTY: Live-in-landlord James Harmon say she may lose his brownstone because half of his tenants pay $1,000 a month through rent control. 

The case has been costly. The couple had to put off retirement, they cannot provide homes for their grandchildren and they are treated like pariahs by some neighbors on West 76th Street.

“We feel total uncertainty about the future at age 69,” James Harmon, a Vietnam veteran and former federal prosecutor, told The Post. “This was devastating to our family because the house is part of our family. This is the place I grew up, and this is the place my mother died. We should be able to keep this house, but we don’t know if we can continue to do that.”

Harmon argued the city’s 43-year-old rent-regulation laws violated the Fifth Amendment, which protects private property from seizure for public use without “just compensation.” Harmon claimed the rent law denies him that compensation, forcing him to bankroll the lifestyles and second homes of his tenants.

The Harmons occupy an elegant one-bedroom apartment on the building’s parlor floor. They rent six one-bedroom units: three at market value and three at rent-stabilized rates 59 percent below market.

The Harmons moved into the building in 2005, after they took out a $1.5 million mortgage to buy Harmon’s brother’s share of the building they inherited. Continue reading

Why the rent is too damn high

NY PostPosted: 10:42 PM, April 23, 2012 | By:  Stephen B. Meister

Fans of rent control cheered yesterday when the Supreme Court declined to take up a case challenging New York’s rent-stabilization laws. Yet killing the rent laws would be the best way to get us back to broadly affordable housing.

In March, Manhattan rents blew past their 2007 high: The average rent (excluding rent-stabilized apartments) is now $3,418. This is a real crisis; people can’t find or are being driven from their homes.

This, when the local economy is far from booming. As The Post recently reported, the city’s overall unemployment rate now stands at 10.2 percent. The rate in Manhattan, 8.5 percent, is still nearly double the 2007 level.

Tenement apartment buildings Manhattan

GETTY IMAGES/COMSTOCK IMAGES Tenement apartment buildings Manhattan

Upper West Side landlord hoping to take fight against rent control to Supreme Court


Upper West Side landlord hoping to take fight against rent control to Supreme Court

Last Updated: 8:39 AM, March 18, 2012

Will rents like this $55-a-month steal become illegal?
A landlord on the Upper West Side is seeking to take the question before the nation’s highest court, claiming that rent control and stabilization violates his constitutional rights.
James and Jeanne Harmon own a five-story brownstone on West 76th Street near Central Park. Of the six units in the building, three pay 59 percent below market rate, according to the complaint.
One tenant, Nancy Wing Lombardi, pays $951 a month and owns a second home in the Hamptons.
The Harmons lost their suit in state and federal courts, but the US Supreme Court is considering hearing their appeal. The city and the state submitted their response defending the rent system on March 6, and Harmon is expected to submit his response Tuesday. The nine justices in the next two or three months will decide whether they will hear the case.

Source: New York Post

The $55 NYC apartment


The $55 NYC apartment

SoHo geezers have cheapest rents in Apple

Last Updated: 3:06 AM, March 18, 2012

It’s the best rent deal in New York City: a SoHo one-bedroom that goes for the price of a porterhouse steak.
Thomas Lombardi, whose family moved to Manhattan from Italy in the 1940s, pays $55.01 a month for a one-bedroom at 5Spring St. — the same unit where he grew up and which he now shares with his much younger wife.
His monthly rent — which amounts to the price of a cup of coffee a day — has not increased a penny in at least two decades, according to state records.
“That’s the lowest rent I’ve ever heard of,” said Frank Ricci, director of government affairs at the Rent Stabilization Association, which represents 25,000 property owners.

Not even running a brothel could get someone evicted in New York


Not even running a brothel could get someone evicted in New York

Last Updated: 9:14 AM, March 11, 2012

Not even running a brothel is enough to remove someone from New York’s coveted — and heavily protected — rent-stabilized and rent-controlled apartments.
If the landlord who owns the $600-a-month apartment on East 78th Street wanted to boot alleged madam Anna Gristina, he’d face an uphill climb. Many judges would not evict Gristina unless she’s been convicted, experts say.

“Even with the best case in the world, it would take me at least three months to evict someone and in most cases much more time,” said real-estate lawyer Adam Leitman Baily.
The issue is so contentious that the US Supreme Court is considering hearing a case on the issue. James Harmon, who owns an Upper West Side brownstone, sued to evict a $1,000-a-month rent regulated tenant, even though she owns a home in the Hamptons. Lower courts have found in her favor.

Source: NY Post