STOP THE CITY OF BUFFALO FROM ETHNIC CLEANSING
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Write, Email, fax or phone call to the following individuals and organizations. Ask them to stop violating our rights for the developers.
Contact United Nations 405 E 42nd St, New York, NY 10017 · (212) 963-4475
Contact Senator Timothy M. Kennedy's Office
Albany OfficeLegislative Office Building, Room 506
Albany , NY 12247Phone: 518-455-2426
District Office2239 South Park Ave.
Buffalo , NY 14220Phone: 716-826-2683
Send a message to Timothy M. Kennedy's office
Crystal Peoples Stokes
425 Michigan Avenue
Buffalo, NY 14203
District Office Directions
Albany, NY 12248
Albany Office Directions
Darius G. Pridgen - Council President
Ellicott District Common Council Member
1315 City Hall, Buffalo NY 14202
Phone: 716-851-4980 ♦ Fax: (716)851-6576
Current Term: Jan. 1, 2016 - Dec. 31, 2019
Common Council Member Darius G. Pridgen currently serves on the following Common Council Committees:
Buffalo Urban Renewal Agency (BURA)
Fillmore District Common Council Member
1408 City Hall, Buffalo NY 14202
Phone: 716-851-4138 ♦ Fax: (716)851-4869
January 1, 2016 to December 31, 2019
Common Council Member David A. Franczyk currently serves on the following:
Police Oversight Committee
Waterfront Development Committee
The Planning Board examines city-wide site plans for projects.
Planning Board Members
James Morrell, Chair
Horace A. Goia
Michael Rembis, PHD
Planning Board Contact(s):
Director of Planning
901 City of Hall
Buffalo NY 14202
8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m
The Buffalo Preservation Board reviews all exterior changes to landmark properties or properties located within City of Buffalo Preservation Districts as per Chapter 337 of City of Buffalo Code. If the proposed work is a small repair or an in-kind replacement, a staff-level review may be possible. If not, the project will be reviewed at an upcoming Preservation Board meeting. The preservation Board uses the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation and Guidelines for Rehabilitating Historic Buildings as its guidelines. A copy can be found online at www.nps.gov
Historic Preservation Board Members:
Eric Lander - Vice Chair
Paul McDonnell - Chair
Historic Preservation Contact:
901 City Hall
Buffalo NY 14202
8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Description of Services
The Zoning Board of Appeals reviews all applications seeking relief from what is required by ordinance.
Zoning Board Members:
Rev. James Lewis- Chair
Zoning Board of Appeals Contact:
Director of Planning
901 City Hall
Buffalo NY 14202
8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Rent Regulated Housing
Rent control limits the rent an owner may charge for an apartment and restricts the right of the owner to evict tenants. The rent control program applies to residential buildings constructed before February, 1947 in municipalities that have not declared an end to the postwar rental housing emergency. Rent control is still in effect in New York City and parts of Albany, Erie, Nassau, Rensselaer, Schenectady, and Westchester counties.
In order for an apartment to be under rent control, the tenant or the tenant’s lawful successor (such as a family member, spouse, or adult lifetime partner) must have been living there continuously since before July 1, 1971. When a rent controlled apartment is vacated in New York City or most other localities, it becomes rent stabilized or completely removed from regulation. In New York City, each rent controlled apartment has a maximum base rent that is adjusted every two years to reflect changes in operating costs. Tenants may challenge increases if the rent being charged by the landlord exceeds the legal regulated rent, the building has housing code violations, the owner’s expenses do not warrant an increase, or the owner is not maintaining essential services.
The Mitchell-Lama housing program provides rental and cooperative housing for middle-income tenants. For both state and city-sponsored Mitchell-Lama developments, tenants must meet eligibility requirements including income, family size and apartment size. Additionally, each development sets its own restrictions.
Public Housing is a federally funded program in which state chartered authorities develop and manage public housing developments, subject to federal, state, and local laws and regulations. Tenants in public housing are entitled to an administrative grievance process administered by the local housing authority before they may be evicted.
The Section 8 Housing Assistance Payments program is a rent and mortgage subsidy program that assists eligible low-income or displaced families, senior citizens and disabled persons in obtaining housing. Families receive a rental subsidy, known as a housing assistance payment, or a mortgage subsidy towards payments to purchase a home, equal to the difference between their share of the rent, (based on their income) and the approved rent or mortgage for the unit. Eligible families and individuals are subject to statutory income limits.
Special Types of Housing
Manufactured and mobile home parks’ owners and tenants are governed by Real Property Law § 233 (“Mobile Homeowner’s Bill of Rights”). The DHCR enforces compliance with this law.
New York City loft owners and tenants are governed by Multiple Dwelling Law, Article 7-C, enforced by the New York City Loft Board.
Exemptions —Tenants who are senior citizens (62 years or older) or disabled may be granted certain exemptions from rent increases. Tenants may determine whether they qualify for a Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption (SCRIE) or a Disability Rent Increase Exemption (DRIE) by calling the DHCR’s Rent Info Line at (718) 739-6400.
Sale of Building
If the building is sold, the landlord must transfer all security deposits to the new owner within five days, or return the security deposits to the tenants. Landlords must notify the tenants, by registered or certified mail, of the name and address of the new owner.
A tenant with a lease is protected from eviction during the lease period so long as the tenant does not violate any substantial provision of the lease or any local housing laws or codes. For both regulated and unregulated apartments, landlords must give formal notice of their intention to obtain legal possession of the apartment.
Unless the tenant vacates the premises by a specified date, the landlord may commence eviction proceedings through: (a) a summary non-payment court proceeding to evict a tenant who fails to pay the agreed rent when due and to recover outstanding rent; or (b) a summary holdover proceeding for eviction if a tenant significantly violates a substantial obligation under the lease (such as using the premises for illegal purposes, or committing or permitting a nuisance) or stays beyond the lease term without permission (Real Property Actions and Proceedings Law (RPAPL § 711).
Landlords of rent regulated apartments may be required to seek approval from DHCR before commencing a court proceeding, for example, if the owner seeks to demolish the building. If a tenant fails to pay rent, is causing a nuisance, damages the apartment or building, or commits other wrongful acts, the owner may proceed directly in court.
A tenant should never ignore legal papers; an eviction notice can still be sent if a tenant did not appear in court to answer court papers (petition) sent by the landlord.
Important: A tenant can be legally evicted only after the landlord has brought a court proceeding and has obtained a judgment of possession, and only a sheriff, marshal or constable can carry out a court ordered warrant to evict a tenant. Landlords may not take the law into their own hands and evict a tenant by use of force or unlawful means. For example, a landlord cannot use threats of violence, remove a tenant’s possessions, lock the tenant out of the apartment, or willfully discontinue essential services such as water or heat. When a tenant is evicted, the landlord must give the tenant a reasonable amount of time to remove all belongings; the landlord may not retain the tenant’s personal belongings or furniture (RPAPL §749; Real Property Law § 235).
A tenant evicted from an apartment in a forcible or unlawful manner is
entitled to recover triple damages in a legal action against the landlord. Landlords in New York City who use illegal methods to force a tenant to move are also subject to both criminal and civil penalties. Further, the tenant may be entitled to be restored to occupancy (RPAPL § 853; NYC Admin. Code § 26-523, § 26-521).
Additional rules apply in certain situations concerning evictions. In New York City, a landlord may not evict a tenant in a rent stabilized apartment for purposes of owner occupancy if the tenant or the spouse of the tenant is a senior citizen or is disabled, unless the landlord provides an equivalent or superior apartment at the same or lower rent in a nearby area. In rent controlled apartments statewide and in rent stabilized apartments outside New York City, a landlord may not evict a senior citizen, a disabled person, or any person who has been living in the apartment for 20 years or more for purposes of owner occupancy (9 NYCRR § 2524.4; 9 NYCRR § 2504.4; NYC Admin. Code § 26-408(b)(1).).
It is wise for tenants to consult an attorney to protect their legal rights if the landlord seeks possession of their apartment.
V. HABITABILITY AND REPAIRS
Warranty of Habitability
Under the warranty of habitability, tenants have the right to a livable, safe and sanitary apartment, a right that is implied in every written or oral residential lease. Any lease provision that waives this right is contrary to public policy and is therefore void. Examples of a breach of this warranty include the failure to provide heat or hot water on a regular basis, or the failure to rid an apartment of an insect infestation.
Public areas of the building are also covered by the warranty of habitability. The warranty of habitability also applies to cooperative apartments, but not to condominiums.
Any uninhabitable condition caused by the tenant or persons under the tenant’s direction or control does not constitute a breach of the warranty of habitability; in such a case, it is the tenant’s responsibility to remedy the condition (Real Property Law §235-b).
In extenuating circumstances, tenants may make necessary repairs and deduct reasonable repair costs from the rent. For example, when a landlord has been notified that a door lock is broken and willfully neglects to repair it, the tenant may hire a locksmith and deduct the cost from the rent. Tenants should keep receipts for such repairs and copies of all communications with the landlord about the repairs.
If an apartment becomes uninhabitable due to fire or other damage not caused by the tenant, and the lease does not expressly provide otherwise, the tenant may vacate the apartment and cancel the lease. The tenant will not be liable for subsequent rental payments. The landlord shall be responsible to refund any rent paid in advance as well as any rent security held by the landlord (Real Property Law § 227).
If only a portion of the apartment is damaged, the rent maybe reduced
pursuant to a court order or by DHCR in proportion to the part of the apartment that is damaged. The landlord must then repair those portions of the apartment and return them to livable condition.
Landlord’s Duty of Repair
Landlords of multiple dwellings must keep the apartments and the building’s public areas in "good repair" and clean and free of vermin, garbage or other offensive material. Landlords are required to maintain electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating and ventilating systems and appliances landlords install, (such as refrigerators and stoves), in good and safe working order. All repairs must be made within a reasonable time period. Such time period may vary depending upon the severity of the repairs. In New York City, the landlord is required to maintain the public areas in a clean and sanitary condition (NYC Admin. Code § 27-2011). Tenants should bring complaints to the attention of their local housing officials (Multiple Dwelling Law §78 and §80; Multiple Residence Law §174. The Multiple Dwelling Law applies to cities with a population of 325,000 or more and the Multiple Residence Law applies to cities with less than 325,000 and to all towns and villages
Landlords are required to take minimal precautions to protect against reasonably foreseeable criminal harm. For example, tenants who are victims of crimes in their building or apartment, and who are able to prove that the criminal was an intruder and took advantage of the fact that the entrance to the building was negligently maintained by the landlord, may be able to recover damages from the landlord.
Entrance Door Locks and Intercoms
Multiple dwellings which were built or converted to such use after January 1, 1968 must have automatic self-closing and self-locking doors at all entrances. These doors must be kept locked at all times, except when an attendant is on duty. If this type of building contains eight or more apartments it must also have a two-way voice intercom system from each apartment to the front door and tenants must be able to "buzz" open the entrance door for visitors.
Multiple dwellings built or converted to such use prior to January 1, 1968 also must have self-locking doors and a two-way intercom system if requested by a majority of all the apartments. Landlords may recover from tenants the cost of providing this equipment (Multiple Dwelling Law § 50-a).
Entrances, stairways and yards of multiple dwellings must be sufficiently lit at night, from sunset to sunrise. The owner is responsible for installing and maintening lighting in these areas (NYC Admin. Code § 27-2040; Multiple Dwelling Law § 35; Multiple Residence Law § 109).
Lobby Attendant Service
Tenants of multiple dwellings with eight or more apartments are entitled to maintain a lobby attendant service for their safety and security at their own expense, whenever any attendant provided by the landlord is not on duty (Multiple Dwelling Law § 50-c).
There must be a mirror in each self-service elevator in multiple dwellings so that people may see, prior to entering, if anyone is already in
the elevator (Multiple Dwelling Law §51-b; NYC Admin. Code § 27-2042).
Individual locks, Peepholes and Mailboxes
Tenants in multiple dwellings can install and maintain their own locks on their apartment entrance doors in addition to the lock supplied by the landlord. The lock may be no more than three inches in circumference, and tenants must provide their landlord with a duplicate key upon request. Failure to provide the landlord with a duplicate key if requested can be construed as a violation of a substantial obligation of the tenancy, and can possibly lead to eviction proceedings. Any lease provision requiring a tenant to pay additional rent or other charges for the installation of an additional lock is void as against public policy and unenforceable (Multiple Dwelling Law § 51-c).
The landlord must provide a peephole in the entrance door of each apartment. Landlords of multiple dwellings in New York City must also install a chain-door guard on the entrance door to each apartment, so as to permit partial opening of the door (Multiple Dwelling Law § 51-c; NYC Admin. Code § 27-2043).
United States Postal regulations require landlords of buildings containing three or more apartments to provide secure mail boxes for each apartment unless the management has arranged to distribute the mail to each apartment. Landlords must keep the mail boxes and locks in good repair.
Landlords in New York City must install window guards in any apartment in which a child under the age of ten resides, and in apartments where the tenant requests window guards, even if a child under ten does not reside in the apartment.
Landlords are required to provide tenants with a form stating whether there are children residing in a household and to request installation of window guards. Tenants are required to notify their landlord when they have children of this age living in their apartment, or if they provide child care services in that apartment. Tenants may not refuse installation. Once window guards are installed, the tenant must not take
down, make alterations to, or remove any part of them. Landlords in New York City must install Department of Health and Mental Hygiene-approved window guards. If an object more than five inches in diameter can fit through, over or under a window guard, then it is not installed properly. All approved window guards have a manufacturer’s approval number imprinted on a vertical stile of the guard, and must be appropriate for the type of window in which they are being installed (NYC Health Code § 131.15).
Windows giving access to fire escapes are excluded. Protective guards must also be installed on the windows of all public hallways. Landlords must give tenants an annual notice about their rights to window guards and must provide this information in a lease rider. Rent controlled and stabilized tenants may be charged up to ten dollars per window guard (NYC Health Code § 131.15).
VII. UTILITY SERVICES
Heat must be supplied from October 1 through May 31 to tenants in multiple dwellings. If the outdoor temperature falls below 55°F between the hours of six a.m. and ten p.m., each apartment must be heated to a temperature of at least 68°F. If the outdoor temperature falls below 40°F between the hours of ten p.m. and six a.m., each apartment must be heated to a temperature of at least 55°F (Multiple Dwelling Law § 79; Multiple Residence Law § 173; NYC Admin. Code § 27-2029).
Truth in Heating
Before signing a lease requiring payment of individual heating and cooling bills, prospective tenants are entitled to receive from the landlord a complete set or summary of the past two years’ bills. These copies must be provided free upon written request (Energy Law § 17-103).
Landlords must provide all tenants of multiple dwellings with both hot and cold water. Hot water must register at or above a constant temperature of 120 degrees at the tap. If a tub or shower is equipped
with an anti-scald valve that prevents the hot water temperature from exceeding 120 degrees, the minimum hot water temperature for that tub or shower is 110 degrees (Multiple Dwelling Law § 75; Multiple Residence Law§ 170; NYC Admin. Code § 27-2031).
Continuation of Utility Service
When the landlord of a multiple dwelling is delinquent in paying utility bills, the utility must give advance written notice to tenants and to certain government agencies of its intent to discontinue service. Service may not be discontinued if tenants pay the landlord’s current bill directly to the utility company. Tenants can deduct these charges from future rent payments.
The Public Service Commission can assist tenants with related problems. If a landlord of a multiple dwelling fails to pay a utility bill and service is discontinued, landlords may be liable for compensatory and punitive damages (Real Property Law § 235-a; Public Service Law § 33).
Landlords are prohibited from harassing or retaliating against tenants who exercise their rights. For example, landlords may not seek to evict tenants solely because tenants (a) make good faith complaints to a government agency regarding violations of any health or safety laws; (b) take good faith actions to protect their rights under the lease; or (c) participate in tenant organizations.
Tenants may collect damages from landlords who violate this law, which applies to all rentals except owner-occupied dwellings with fewer than four units (Real Property Law § 223-b).
Right to Privacy
Tenants have the right to privacy within their apartments. A landlord, however, may enter a tenant’s apartment with reasonable prior notice, and at a reasonable time, with the tenant’s consent, either to provide routine or agreed upon repairs or services, or in accordance with the lease. If the tenant unreasonably withholds consent, the landlord may seek a court order to permit entry. In an emergency, such as a fire or water leak, the landlord may enter the apartment without the tenant’s consent or prior notice. A landlord may not interfere with the installation of cable television facilities (Public Service Law § 228).
Landlords are required to provide reasonable accommodations for tenants with disabilities so that they may enjoy equal access to and use of housing accommodations. A “reasonable accommodation” is a policy or rule change that is related to a tenant’s specific disability and does not impose extremely high costs on a landlord or cause harm or discomfort to other tenants, such as permitting a tenant who is blind or has a psychological disability to have a guide dog or a companion animal, despite a building’s “no pets” policy (42 U.S.C.A § 3604(f)(3).
Additionally, a landlord may not refuse to permit, at the expense of the handicapped tenant, reasonable structural modifications of existing premises occupied by the tenant, if such modifications may be necessary to afford the tenant full use of the premises. Such modifications may include building a ramp or installing grab bars in the bathroom.
However, the landlord may condition permission for a modification on the tenant agreeing to restore the interior of the premises to the condition that existed before the modification (42 U.S.C.A. §3604(f) (3).
Tenants with disabilities who need accommodations should notify their landlord and request the necessary accommodations. Though such a request is not required to be in writing, it is often helpful should any dispute arise. A landlord may request documentation from a health care professional attesting to the disability and describing any functional limitations that arise. A tenant with a disability who thinks a landlord has unreasonably refused a reasonable accommodation request should contact the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
Landlords may not refuse to rent to, renew the lease of, or otherwise discriminate against, any person or group of persons because of race, creed, color, national origin, sex, disability, age, marital status or familial status. In New York City, tenants are further protected against discrimination with respect to lawful occupation, sexual orientation, partnership status and immigration status. People with AIDS or who archive-positive, as well as recovering alcoholics, are also protected from discrimination. Further, NYC landlords are prohibited from discriminating against tenants based on lawful source of income which includes income from social security or any form of federal, state or local public assistance including section 8 vouchers (Executive Law § 296(5); NYC Admin.) Code § 8-107).
Landlords may not discriminate against any person who has children living with them, by refusing to rent an apartment or by insisting upon unfavorable lease terms on the basis of the person having children. However, this restriction does not apply to housing units for senior citizens which are subsidized or insured by the federal government. In addition, a lease may not require that tenants remain childless during their tenancy (Real Property Law §237-a).
An aggrieved party should contact HUD within one year after the alleged discriminatory housing practice occurs or ceases. In New York City, an aggrieved party may file a complaint with the NYC Commis
sion on Human Rights within one year from the date on which the discriminatory act occurred. An aggrieved party may also choose to sue for damages against a landlord who violates this law, and may recover attorney’s fees if successful (NYC Admin. Code § 8-109; 42 U.S.C.A. §3610(a) (1).
A landlord is prohibited from any action intended to force a tenant out of an apartment or to compel a tenant to give up any rights granted the tenant by law. No landlord, or any party acting on the landlord’s behalf, may interfere with the tenant’s privacy, comfort, or quiet enjoyment of the apartment. Harassment may take the form of physical or verbal abuse, willful denial of services, or multiple instances of frivolous litigation. If a landlord lies or deliberately misrepresents the law to a tenant, this may also constitute harassment. Rent regulated tenants who feel they have been victimized by harassment should contact DHCR. Landlords found guilty of harassment are subject to fines of up to $2,000 for the first offense and up to $10,000 for each subsequent offense. Under certain circumstances, harassment of a rent regulated tenant may constitute a class E felony (Penal Law§ 241.05; NYC Admin Code §§ 27-2004, 27-2005).
New York City tenants have additional recourse against harassment. Tenants may bring a claim in housing court and the court may issue restraining orders against own owners if violations have been found (NYC Admin Code § 27-2115).
Check out Buffalo Municipal Housing for the Multi Dwellings and Low income housing developments that were sold. Go to the Griot Nation Network and watch Political Perks for an update on Ethnic Cleansing, Gentrification and the Shoreline Apartments. Also visit Facebook Tea Time with Taniqua as she continues to bring public awareness to the Community.
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