Complex rent laws bar 1/3 of apartments from rent increases

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June 7, 2012

No Eviction After Renter Didn’t Pay for 9 Years

By 

The state’s highest court ruled on Thursday that a Brooklyn loft tenant who has not paid rent since 2003 could not be evicted because the landlord had not brought the building up to residential standards.

The ruling by the State Court of Appeals could affect tenants in some buildings covered by the 1982 Loft Law, which has allowed hundreds of former manufacturing or commercial buildings to be rented to tenants as long as the landlords make necessary changes, namely in fire protection and other safety measures, to bring them up to residential building codes.

The tenant, Margaret Maugenest, has lived and worked as an artist in her Gowanus loft at 280 Nevins Street since 1984. According to her lawyer, Margaret B. Sandercock, Ms. Maugenest began withholding rent in 2003 because of maintenance, fire and safety issues. That rent, Ms. Sandercock said, was under $600 per month.

In 2008, the building owner, Chazon L.L.C., sued to evict Ms. Maugenest for nonpayment, and two lower courts ruled in Chazon’s favor. But on Thursday, the appeals court said that because Chazon had missed deadlines for bringing the building up to residential code, and did not receive an extension from the city’s Loft Board, state law prohibited it from evicting tenants, even for nonpayment.

“In the absence of compliance, the law’s command is quite clear,” said the decision, written by Judge Robert S. Smith. Continue reading

An Old Texas Tale Retold: the Farmer vs. the Oil Company

NY Times

Mike Stone/Reuters After rejecting offers from oil companies for years, Julia Trigg Crawford and her family decided to lease land rights to their farm in Sumner, Tex.

Mike Stone/Reuters After rejecting offers from oil companies for years, Julia Trigg Crawford and her family decided to lease land rights to their farm in Sumner, Tex.

By SAUL ELBEIN
Published: May 7, 2012

 

This was nothing new. Her grandfather bought the land, in northeast Texas, about a two-hour drive from Dallas and a quarter mile from the Oklahoma border, in 1948 and started growing wheat, corn and soy. Since then, pipeline companies have tried to lease rights to cross it many times. The Crawfords always managed to persuade them to find a way around their property.

“When you allow a pipeline to cross your land, you give up certain rights to it,” Ms. Crawford said. “You can’t use your land the way you want anymore. We didn’t want to do that.”

But TransCanada did not go away. Their people kept coming back, offering more and more money.

Then on Aug. 26, 2011, Ms. Crawford received a letter from Keystone, TransCanada’s American subsidiary. The letter made a “final offer” of $21,626. Then, it said, “if Keystone is unable to successfully negotiate the voluntary acquisition of the necessary easements, it will have to resort to the exercise of its statutory right of eminent domain.” Continue reading

Decades-Old Housing ‘Emergency’ Continues, and So Does Rent Regulation

 

 

March 26, 2012, 5:50 PM
Decades-Old Housing ‘Emergency’ Continues, and So Does Rent Regulation

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg signed a bill on Monday that extended the city’s participation in rent regulation for another three years by redeclaring a state of housing emergency, even as a challenge to rent regulation laws looms in the United States Supreme Court.
“The Department of Housing Preservation and Development reports the vacancy rate in rental apartments to be at 3.12 percent,” Mr. Bloomberg said at the bill-signing ceremony. That, he continued, is “well below the 5 percent rate at which the law requires that rent regulation be discontinued.”
The city has had a vacancy rate of less than 5 percent since the department began keeping track more than 40 years ago, which means it has been in a state of housing emergency for all that time. But critics of rent regulation argue that an emergency by definition must be temporary.

Wars Over Regulation of Rent Are Only a Sideshow

 

March 10, 2012

Wars Over Regulation of Rent Are Only a Sideshow

 

 

With a certain regularity, New Yorkers are given the opportunity to engage in a satisfyingly maddening if futile pastime: decrying the obscenities of rent regulation.
The narratives present themselves readily: Last year we learned that for nearly two decades, Faye Dunaway had a rent-stabilized apartment on the Upper East Side for which she paid about $1,000 a month. Many of us know someone, or know someone who knows someone, who has managed to live a Woody Allen life in a sprawling West Side classic-six for monthly carrying costs that would seem only minimally to exceed the cable bill. In some of these instances, the lucky jerk unfairly receiving the city’s largess has managed to save up so much money that August will find him at his second place in the Berkshires or the South of France.

Popular Support Builds for the Harmons

 

Challenge to Manhattan’s Rent Control Laws Goes to Supreme Court

December 27, 2011

A landlord in NYC is fighting Rent Control and taking the case to the US Supreme Court. This could have wide ramifications for landlords all across the US, including Los Angeles. Let’s support James Harmon in his fight against Rent Control.


Article Taken From New York Times:
By ANEMONA HARTOCOLLIS
Published: December 19, 2011

James D. Harmon Jr. learned the value of a house as a child, shoveling coal into the furnace of one of two Upper West Side buildings owned by his grandfather, a French immigrant who worked as a waiter. “Jimmy, you take care of your building and your building will take care of you,” his grandfather told him.

“But the word he used in French wasn’t building” Mr. Harmon recalled the other day. “The word he used in French was ‘maison,’ which means home.”
Now Mr. Harmon, 68, who grew up in one of those buildings — a bow-fronted town house on West 76th Street near Central Park — has gone to the United States Supreme Court contending that New York City’s rent laws constitute a “taking” of his property without just compensation, a violation of his constitutional rights.

The regulations are meant to support the government’s goal of maintaining affordable housing for its citizens. Instead, he says, the laws have forced him and his family to shoulder the government’s burden and extend what is essentially “privatized welfare” to rent-stabilized tenants who are paying rent 59 percent below market rates and who have rights of succession to their lodgings in his house.

“Put yourself in our position,” Mr. Harmon, a former federal prosecutor, said of himself and his wife, Jeanne. “Suppose somebody told you, you’ve got an extra bedroom, we’d like to put someone in there for as long as they want to stay, and you have to take care of them for the rest of their lives and the rest of your life. That’s really what this is like.”

The New York Times: A Landlord’s Uphill Fight to Ease Rent Restrictions

 

THE APPRAISAL

A Landlord’s Uphill Fight to Ease Rent Restrictions

 

                                                                                                                Kirsten Luce for The New York Times
Jeanne Harmon and James D. Harmon Jr., above at their town house in Manhattan, are challenging a rent-stabilization law.
James D. Harmon Jr. learned the value of a house as a child, shoveling coal into the furnace of one of two Upper West Side buildings owned by his grandfather, a French immigrant who worked as a waiter. “Jimmy, you take care of your building and your building will take care of you,” his grandfather told him.
“But the word he used in French wasn’t building” Mr. Harmon recalled the other day. “The word he used in French was ‘maison,’ which means home.”
Now Mr. Harmon, 68, who grew up in one of those buildings — a bow-fronted town house on West 76th Street near Central Park — has gone to the United States Supreme Court contending that New York City’s rent laws constitute a “taking” of his property without just compensation, a violation of his constitutional rights.
Continue reading