Tenants rally for stronger rent laws

Mar 3, 2015

Alliance for Tenant Power in Capitol Building
Credit Jenna Flanagan / Innovation Trail

A small but passionate contingent of New York City’s tenants’ rights organizations gathered in the Capitol Tuesday to ask lawmakers to renew and strengthen the state’s rent laws.

“What’s happening in communities of color, particularly in the Bronx, Brooklyn and in places like Washington Heights is devastating.”

Delsenia Glover, campaign manager for the Alliance for Tenant Power says nearly 3-million New Yorkers occupy just over a million rent-regulated apartments in the city. But every year, tens of thousands are lost when the units are vacated and rented out at market rate.

They accuse landlords of wanting to push working class people out of the city.

“When you lose those unites, you lose the middle class and the working class in New York City.”

Harlem resident Elaine Williams says the deregulation of apartments is changing the essence of the historically black neighborhood she and her family have called home for 46 years.

“We welcome everyone into the community, what we don’t want is for owners of these apartment buildings to start gorging the tenants that have kept the quality of life going for their building. They might own the building but the quality of life that brings people into Harlem that want to live in Harlem deals with what the tenants have put into it.”

The protesters say loopholes in the current law allow landlords to force tenants out through upgrades to the unit or the building. They say those improvements push rents over the 20-hundred dollar threshold, giving the landlord the right to charge rates several times that.

The Alliance says some residents in New York are spending as much as 60-percent of their income on rent.