Tenants of over 1,000 apartments in Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village in Manhattan have been issued Mid-Lease Rent Increases ranging anywhere from several hundred to several thousand dollars and have been given until July 1 to pay more or get out. This is a middle class community of elderly people, parents, students, and young professionals unable to afford such drastic rent increases. Some tenants have lived here their entire lives and wouldn't have anywhere else to go. CW Capital knows this and is using the rent increases as evictions to empty the apartments and raise the rent even further. This is legal, but not right. Please tell CW Capital and CompassRock Real Estate to reverse all Mid-Lease Rent Increases and state in writing, publicly, that they will only propose rent increases at the start of a new lease.
Our Goal: 1,290 signatures, one for each tenant affected!
Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village on Manhattan's East Side were constructed in the 1940's for returning World War II veterans, their families, and middle class residents of New York. A plaque on the property celebrated the community as a place where "families of moderate means might live in health, comfort and dignity." For over 50 years, the 11,200 unit, approximately 25,000 resident complex was exactly that.
But in 2002, the plaque was removed, and everything changed. Apartments were illegally deregulated and rents were raised in an attempt to push out long time residents and bring in more revenue ahead of the property's sale. In 2007, a group of tenants sued the owners for charging market rates on apartments the City of New York was awarding the owners tax credits to keep rent regulated. Seven years later, after an epic legal battle, the tenants won. But the current owner CW Capital was given permission to raise rents mid-lease on over 4,000 units, something most residents didn't find out about until the details of the finalized settlement were made public and were irreversible.
On the first day they were legally allowed to, CW Capital issued Mid-Lease Rent Increases on over 1,000 units, giving residents initially two weeks to pay or get out (they eventually agreed to four extra weeks). These notices were slipped under doors or delivered by security guard.
Current resident M.M., who is scrambling to find a way to pay the new rent amount or find a new place to live says, “Our rent was raised $1,600 with initially two weeks notice. It was incredibly shocking. It’s insensitive and unethical. Average working people cannot afford the rent they are trying to charge. People that live here are families.”
CW Capital was not mandated to issue these increases. It was a choice. In fact, leasing agents have for years been telling residents to ignore the fine print in their leases that warns of such potential increases by saying things such as "it is not something the landlord would choose to do." Not only is this misleading, but also it's potentially illegal.
Where should these tenants go? How can they find suitable, affordable housing on such short notice, in a city with such high demand, during the busiest season for new renters?
These tenants have children in local schools, have lived here for decades, and have forged deep ties in the community. This is their home and they want to stay. They want CW Capital to treat them with respect and dignity and honor the current leases until they expire by not raising rents mid-lease. Tenants have organized and protested. National and local media outlets have covered the story. City, state, and national politicians have called on CW Capital to reverse the rent increases.
But CW Capital hasn't. And any day, thousands more tenants could receive Mid-Lease Rent Increases because CW Capital won't vow to respect the terms of all tenants' current leases.
All these people want is to be able to stay in their homes.
This isn't right. This isn't decent. And you can change this.
Tell CW Capital: treat your tenants with respect! Immediately reverse all Mid-Lease Rent Increases and publicly state, in writing, that you will only propose rent increases at the start of a new lease.
For more information:
Court Case Info: http://www.berdonclaims.com/cases/Details.aspx?cid=243#tb_main
Interview with Tenants: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/15/stuy-town-owner-rent-eviction_n_3280732.html
NY1 Video with Tenant(s): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aB0r1Lb1faw
Plaque (in the right column): http://stuytownreport.blogspot.com/
I understand it's your legal right to raise rent mid-lease on these units, but think of the elderly tenants who have lived in the community for decades and would have nowhere to go. Think of the families and their children who are enrolled at local schools and have friends in the community. These are tenants that were affected by Hurricane Sandy and have been dealing with the loss of amenities ever since. These are middle class, working people, trying to hold onto to a place that they can call home. A place that gives their children a chance to play in the grass. A place that gives them respite from the harshness of the city.
In 1947, a plaque was installed on the property honoring Met Life Chairman F.H. Ecker and his intentions for the community and for his company: "that families of moderate means may live in health, comfort and dignity...and that a pattern might be set of private enterprise productively devoted to public service."
That plaque was removed in 2002. But I believe that CW Capital and CompassRock Real Estate can honor the message on that plaque and demonstrate their devotion to public service by acting immediately to reverse mid-lease rent increases and promise no more.
I believe all of you who run those companies are decent people and will do the right thing. Just think of the people affected. They are your tenants and they are counting on you to treat them with dignity.