Resources

Are you a tenant or homeowner?
Are you looking for affordable housing in New York City?
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LES READY! Hurricane Relief Resources

Please see this list from our colleagues at LES READY! on how you can help those affected by the recent hurricanes.

In addition:

  1. The Maria Fund, mariafund.org
    Donations go through the Center for Popular Democracy and communities on-the-ground decide how to distribute the money and what to spend it on.
  2. GOLES is collecting donations of physical objects (canned food, diapers, sanitary napkins, clothing) and these are sent to various locations in PR via the post offices. 171 Ave B, 212-533-2541, contact: Ceci Pineda
  3. Resilient Power Puerto Rico is an initiative aimed at immediate-term and long-term recovery in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria. Your donation will fund the purchase and delivery of high-efficiency solar panels, inverters, wiring equipment and battery backups; installation by local citizens; and on-the-job-training by our electrical engineers, solar technicians and alternative energy experts. Given that over 80% of Puerto Rico is without electricity more than 2 weeks after the storm, impacting homes, stores, hospital and many essential services, this is the most critical component of recovery.
  4. Uprose is an environmental justice organization working closely with several community based organizations doing disaster recovery work in Puerto Rico. You can donate to Uprose, and they will in turn donate the funds to groups such as WhyHunger, Güakiá Colectivo Agroecológico, La Corporación Piñones Se Integra (COPI), and Proyecto Agroecológico El Josco Bravo. Add the memo Por Nuestra Gente: https://www.paypal.com/donate/?token=rySDFRHd-MboDccF5qIF1yj5hoiXKATWwleQSe_zyDrKZDu4mBMHwOMvLm62NQF8vZJl8m&country.x=US&locale.x=US

Housing Lottery for Essex Crossing is Open

AFFORDABLE HOUSING LOTTERY AT ESSEX CROSSING IS NOW OPEN!!! 

104 APARTMENTS ARE AVAILABLE FOR HOUSEHOLDS
STARTING AT MINIMUM INCOMES OF $19,680
THE DEADLINE FOR APPLICATIONS IS TUESDAY, MAY 2ND

YOU CAN ASK FOR AN APPLICATION BY SENDING A SELF ADDRESSED STAMPED ENVELOPE TO:
Essex Crossing Site 5
Triborough Finance New Station
PO Box 2011
New York, NY 10035-9997

YOU CAN ALSO GO TO THE CITY’S WEBSITE AND APPLY ONLINE AT
https://a806-housingconnect.nyc.gov/nyclottery/lottery.html#current-projects

DO YOU NEED HELP APPLYING ONLINE? COOPER SQUARE COMMITTEE
WILL ASSIST PEOPLE BY APPOINTMENT WITH APPLYING AT OUR OFFICE.

DATES:
THURSDAY, MARCH 23RD FROM 6 – 8 PM
AND
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 12TH FROM 6 – 8 PM
LOCATION: 61 EAST 4TH STREET, 1ST FLOOR
YOU MUST REGISTER IN ADVANCE BY CALLING 212-228-8210

YOU WILL BE GIVEN A TIME SLOT, AND WE SHOULD BE ABLE TO HELP YOU FILL OUT
THE APPLICATION IN 30 MINUTES. WE WILL HAVE LAPTOPS AVAILABLE AND HELP
YOU LOG IN AND FILL OUT THE APPLICATION AND SUBMIT IT.

WE ARE ACCEPTING 16 PEOPLE FOR THE MARCH 23RD, AND 16 PEOPLE FOR THE APRIL 12TH SESSION. IF YOU RSVPAND DON’T SHOW UP, WE WILL NOT RESCHEDULE YOU.

Are you being overcharged? Get your Rent History!

Especially when there is uncertainty as to RS status, both you and all of your neighbors should get your “Rent History” from DHCR. Every building that IS or ever WAS RS has one, aside from exceedingly rare instances where the landlord never reported anything. This will help us determine whether or not your apartment should be RS, and if so, the approximate legal rent. It’s not entirely self-explanatory; we can help you interpret it.
On your own, you can review the history: Landlords typically won’t file apartment rent history after it goes market-rate. So if your apartment’s history suddenly stops and the apartment’s rent was UNDER $2,700 before that time (or whatever the de-regulation limit was at that time), there is a could chance your apartment should not have been de-stabilized. De-regulation limits are $2,700 on or after June 15, 2015, $2,500 on or after June 24, 2011 or $2,000 before June 24, 2011. Remember, even if you pay a relatively high rent, rent-stabilization offers a host of other protections, including a limit on how much your rent can be raised every year, and the requirement for your landlord to offer you a lease renewal!

We are very happy to help you interpret the Rent History and sort out the legality of your rent, If you would like assistance, gather these docs: (a) above mentioned Rent History, (b) last 4 leases + any proposed lease renewal that one hasn’t sent back to the LL yet, and (c) Our intake form, and call or email us to set up an appointment.

Office of Rent Administration – online application form to file rent reduction applications based on a decrease of services

The Office of Rent Administration (ORA) has just released an expanded and improved online application form for tenants who want to file rent reduction applications based on a decrease of services in their apartment:

https://www1.dhcr.state.ny.us/ServicesIntake/BuildingSelect.aspx

Tenant can still file applications on paper:

 

  • Tenants who want to report a rent reduction based upon decreased services in their apartment RA-81.
  • Tenants who want to report a building-wide decrease in services outside of their apartment may use form RA-84.

 

We hope you and your constituents will take advantage of this improved application.

 

Sincerely,

 

 

Woody Pascal
Deputy Commissioner
Office of Rent Administration
NYS Homes & Community Renewal

Key-fob or new keys being issued? Know your rights!

Here are four things to keep in mind when dealing with the issuance of new keys or key fobs:

1.)  You can request that keys be issued on site at the building -or- at a mutually agreed upon site.

If the landlord (LL) states that keys will only be issued during the day Mon-Fri (a time which would clearly be difficult for 9-5 workers to make) you should talk to your neighbors and confront the LL about this.  Explain to your LL that the law states that they must issue keys at a time and place that is reasonable and convenient for all tenants.

2.)  If the LL is asking for 4-5 pieces of documentation to be shown in order to receive a key, this is an excessive interpretation of New York State’s Div of Housing and Community Renewal’s (HCR) standard which states that “appropriate proof of ID” is required.

You can insist that less documentation is appropriate and that it is all that you will be providing.  However, keep in mind that the “appropriate proof of ID” you provide should demonstrate that you are a “lawful occupant” of the apartment.

3.) Additionally, HCR plainly states that a LL is not allowed to make copies of your documentation for the issuance of keys.  They are also not allowed to collect your SSN number for these purposes.

A landlord is simply allowed to verify that you are a “lawful occupant” through your “appropriate proof of ID.”  They then are allowed to take your picture and note your name and address for their records.

4.)  A landlord is also required to issue keys to more than just the leaseholder.

In any instance where a “lawful occupant” other that the leaseholder needs to be issued keys, the lease holder should notify the LL in advance that the “lawful occupant” lives in the apartment and will be coming by for a key.

 

If you are a “lawful occupant” with “appropriate proof of ID” –and– the leaseholder has notified the LL, the LL should issue you a key.  Family members and roommates are considered “lawful occupant(s)” by HCR.

 

 

If you have other questions or need additional advice, please feel free to reach out to the Cooper Square Committee at 212-228-8210 –or– csc@coopersquare.org

Finding a Lawyer (free or paid)

Unfortunately, advocacy and organizing is not always enough to stop your landlord from taking you to court. In that case, you will often benefit from a lawyer’s representation in court. See the below links:

Our list of free legal aid organizations for low-income New Yorkers is here. You can only go to them if you are already in court (you have been served court papers).

See Met Council’s page for paid lawyers you can hire if you are not low-income.

For advice on representing yourself in Housing Court, we recommend you speak with Housing Court Answers.

U.S. Census Bureau to Hire in the Boroughs

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

 

U.S. Census Bureau

New York Regional Office

1-212-584-3440

 

U.S. Census Bureau to Hire in the Boroughs

This fall the U.S. Census Bureau will hire over 500 temporary Field Representatives to conduct the New York City Housing & Vacancy Survey (NYC-HVS). This survey is conducted every three years to comply with the City’s rent regulation laws. The Census Bureau has conducted the survey for the City since 1965.

Applicants who wish to take the Census test for the NYC-HVS must reside within Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, Manhattan or the Bronx. The pay rate for Field Representatives in these areas is $16.92 per hour. Employment will last about four to six months. Training is paid and employees are reimbursed for travel expenses. All interested applicants must be over the age of 18, pass a background check, be a U.S. Citizen, and pass a written test and two interviews. All applicants outside of Manhattan are required to have a valid driver’s license and regular access to an insured vehicle. To learn more about job requirements and qualifications call us toll free at 1-800-991-2520 (Select option 2 for recruiting) or send an e-mail with your complete address and phone number to: new.york.recruit@census.gov.

The U.S. Census Bureau is an Equal Employment Opportunity employer.

-X-

U.S. Census Bureau – New York Regional Office

Partnership and Data Services: 212-584-3440

Resources and Information in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy — CSC Open

Fri 11/16:

If you lost food due to the power outage, do you receive Food Stamps?

No:
There is no money available for you. Con Ed will not reimburse you for a “Residential Claim for Food and Medicine Spoilage” Form as that form states,”Claims for reimbursement for losses sustained as of result of power outages caused by storms or other conditions beyond our control will not be paid.” Our local politicians and Con Ed have verified this. Other forms of assistance may be available from FEMA (such as for lost wages or house damage), see if you qualify here.

Yes:
Your account will be credited for 50% more this month. and you may be able to have your lost food reimbursed. For more details, “New Yorkers Receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Affected by Hurricane Sandy” section on HRA’s website.

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How to Find an Apartment Without Bedbugs

By Teri Karush Rogers, Founder and Editor, BrickUnderground.com

In AM New York of Thur 1/5/12, retrieved here.


Rest unassured: In the city that never sleeps, bedbugs are still a major cause of insomnia for thousands of New Yorkers trapped in infested apartments and buildings. Whether you’re renting or buying, here’s how to minimize the chance that they will be waiting behind your next front door.

Renters

• Plug the building’s address into theBedBugRegistry.com and the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development. Look for complaints of multiple apartment infestations within the past year and signs that the landlord is unresponsive.

• NYC landlords must give you a bedbug disclosure form stating whether the bloodsuckers have been detected in the apartment or in the building in the past year, and on what floor. Be extra concerned about infestations on your floor or adjacent floors. You should also ask how the landlord or management company is dealing with the problem. They should sound knowledgeable — not defensive or dismissive.

• Ask the neighbors: Unlike co-op and condo owners, they have nothing to lose by telling you if there’s a problem in the building.

Buyers

• Co-op and condo owners tend to keep bed bug problems quiet for fear of hurting resale values, so you won’t learn much by asking the neighbors or poking around online. However, like landlords, co-op owners are required by law to tell buyers about a bed bug problem in the apartment in the past year, and in the building if they know about it (though this is far from guaranteed). Condo owners only have to disclose problems in their apartment, and only when asked.

• Either way, ask your attorney to put a seller’s representation in the contract stating that to the seller’s knowledge there has never been a bed bug problem in the building.

• Your attorney should also ask the property manager about the building’s bed bug history and pay close attention to the response: Ignoring the question or passing the buck may indicate a problem.

A word about inspections…

Before you spend a few hundred dollars on a bedbug-sniffing dog (assuming you can get access to your prospective digs), understand that it will be challenging for a dog to find evidence if the apartment is empty as the bugs typically hibernate in the walls out of reach.

If the apartment is empty, consider scattering a variety of “passive” detectors (sticky traps) and “active” detectors (which emulate the presence of a human being) where the couch and bed used to be. The active monitors range from a fancy plug-in machine like the Nightwatch Bed Bug Monitor (around $400) to the lower-tech BB Active Alert Bed Bug Monitor ($25 + heating pads). Passive varieties include the CatchMaster Bedbug Detection System ($65/five dozen).

It can take around two weeks to detect signs of bedbugs in a vacant apartment (for best results, the apartment should be empty for less than a few weeks), so this is not a practical option for renter, nor for many buyers.

If you do go the dog route, bear in mind that false positives are a particular problem with untrained and/or scam-minded handlers. Make sure the company you hire is recommended by the National Entomology Scent Detection Canine Association.

If you’re moving from a bedbug problem, consider taking extra precautions against bringing hitchhikers with you: Add an extra night to your move to have your moving truck fumigated. This also eliminates the possibility of picking bedbugs up in transit.

Finally, just because you move into an apartment (or building) without bedbugs does not, of course, guarantee it will always be without bedbugs. Early detection — achieved by bedbug “proofing” your apartment — is the best way to minimize the expense and psychological trauma of a bedbug infestation.

Roommates: Rights and Risks

Rent Stabilized and Rent Controlled Tenants:

A rent stabilized tenant has the right to take in a roommate and the roommate’s dependent children. When two or more tenants are named on the lease, the number of tenants and roommates cannot exceed the number of tenants named in the lease. In all situations, occupancy may be restricted in order to comply with municipal regulations concerning overcrowding.

In a rent stabilized apartment, the rent collected from the roommate cannot exceed their proportionate share of the apartment. For example, one tenant named on a lease can take in one roommate and the roommate can be charged no more than half of the legal rent. The roommate can be advised to file a complaint of rent overcharge with DHCR if they were charged in excess of that proportionate share.

With regard to a rent controlled apartment, a roommate may not be charged an amount of rent that is in excess of the legal rent for the apartment. Any determination of a rent overcharge is under the jurisdiction of the civil court.

Unregulated Tenants:

In unregulated apartments, the landlord does not have to permit you to have a roommate if you are the sole person on the lease. If you want to bring in a roommate, you should obtain the landlord’s consent. In any case, the landlord can always decide not to renew your lease whether you have a roommate or not since tenants in unregulated apartments have no right to an automatic lease renewal.

Tenants and Roommates Should Do Due Diligence:

Regardless of whether you are the leaseholder or the potential roommate, you should do the following; 1) Do a credit check, and even a criminal background check on the other person (you’ll need their birth date). There are online companies that can do this inexpensively (less than $30).

If after the roommate moves in, you don’t get along, and your roommate refuses to leave, you cannot simply change the locks. You will have to take your roommate to Housing Court to evict him or her. The ensuing eviction process could be both painful and expensive. Remember, until the eviction process is complete you may have to live with this person.

If you are considering joining someone as a roommate, make your decision carefully. Do the following: 1) Ask to see a copy of their lease proving that they are the legal tenant; 2) Ask to see proof they are current with their rent. You don’t want to move into an apartment, and give a deposit and two months rent only to find out the leaseholder is being evicted for non-payment. 3) During the interview process, try to find out as much as possible about the primary tenants’ plans. Ask if they are willing to ask the landlord to put you on the lease after a probationary period, if possible. If this isn’t possible, your rights are very limited and your ability to stay in the apartment may be cut short at any time.

If you join someone as a roommate (i.e. your name isn’t on the lease) another set of problems can crop up. In most instances, if your roommate (the leaseholder) leaves, you have no right to keep the apartment. The primary tenant might also decide to temporarily sublet to someone, in which case you will suddenly have a new housemate not of your choosing. This can and does happen. Negotiate an agreement up front with the leaseholder, requiring that you have a say in the process of selecting the sub-tenant in the event that the leaseholder decides to sublet his or her apartment.

This Fact Sheet was prepared by staff of the Cooper Square Committee

 

 

HOW TO REPORT AN ILLEGAL HOTEL

Here are the basics:

  • The Mayor’s Office of Special Enforcement has become the “go to” agency for investigations of illegal hotels.
  • You should contact them at (212)788-7140 if you believe an illegal hotel is being operated out of your building. When calling state that you are calling to report an illegal hotel.
  • When reporting an illegal hotel you will need to call to make an initial report and then afterward follow-up with additional calls when you see instances of the hotel’s operation.
    (*For example if you see someone that you don’t believe to be a tenant carrying luggage into one of the units which you’ve identified as a hotel unit, you should call the Special Enforcement Office to report it.)
  • Pay attention to what’s happening in your building and call every time you see suspicious activity happening.
  • The inspector will continue to log these instances and build a case against you landlord &/or the hotel operator.
  • To effectively prove that a hotel is being operated out of your building you will need to work with the inspector from the mayor’s office to build a case. The more you report to the inspector the better your chances are of proving the hotel exists and of shutting it down.

* For more information contact Brandon*

How to Apply for Food Stamps, Medicaid, and Health Insurance

How to Apply for Food Stamps:

To apply online for Food Stamps, click the link here:

http://www.nyc.gov/html/hra/html/directory/food.shtml

 

Church Based Food Resources:

In addition to accessing Food Stamps, low income people residing on the Lower East Side can access free lunches in order to supplement their nutritional needs.

www.safhnyc.org – Trinity’s Services and Food for the Homeless (SAFH) is a non-profit organization connected to Trinity Lutheran Church’s Parish.  It is located at East 9th St. and Avenue B, and provides lunch to anyone regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation or age at 11 am Monday through Friday.  No ID is required, and they do not prosyletize.

SAFH also operates a food pantry at 12:30 pm, Monday through Friday.  Proof of household size is required so that they can provide each household with the appropriate amount of food.

Grafitti Church provides brown bag lunches to people every Saturday in Tompkins Square Park, at E. 7th St. and Avenue B.

 

Medicaid and other Health Insurance Programs:

To apply for Child Health Plus, Family Health Plus, Medicaid and the Family Planning Benefit Program, click the link below:

http://www.health.ny.gov/health_care/family_health_plus/application.htm

Based upon the information you provide, you will be told which program you and/or your children are eligible for. You can use ACCESS NY Public Health Insurance Eligibility Screening Tool to see which public health insurance programs you and your family may be eligible for.

A Complete Guide to Health Care Coverage for Older New Yorkers 2014:
http://www.nyc.gov/html/dfta/downloads/pdf/publications/healthcareguide_14.pdf

 

 

 

 

 

The Rent Guidelines Board’s Minimum Increases: What They Could Mean For You

We reproduce here a letter from John Edward Dallas, a Cooper Square Committee staff member, in response to an inquiry from a rent-stabilized tenant about the Rent Guidelines Board’s controversial minimum increases.  The latter, after nearly a year and a half of being disputed in the New York State court system, were declared lawful by the state’s highest court in April of this year.  We believe the information John provides in his e-mail will be helpful to the many rent-stabilized tenants who seek — and should have — more information about the minimum increases.

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List of Insurance Companies

Listing of Insurance Companies serving the NYC Area

Contact them to get a quote for Apartment Renters Insurance

 

Allstate

32 Union Sq E #313

New York, NY 10003
212-982-6606

 

Nationwide

877-669-6877

 

Gotham Brokerage Co., Inc.

156 William Street

New York, NY 10038-5322

(212) 406-7300 ‎

 

State Farm

58 W 8th Street

New York, NY 10011-9044

(212) 253-2230

 

Travelers

888-695-4625

 

Note:  The Cooper Square Committee does not receive any commission, nor do we receive any financial benefits by providing this list of insurance companies.  We recommend that you get quotes from at least two companies, and review the policy details.

 

 

Stop Bed Bugs Safely – from Dept of Health

Produced by NYC Dept of Health and Mental Hygiene     Revised 12-08

download Download the colorful, fancy PDF of this fact sheet
from the NYC Dept of Health website here.

También disponible en Español.

 

WHAT ARE BED BUGS?Click to enlarge this picture of a bedbug.

Bed bugs are small insects that feed on human blood. They are usually active at night when people are sleeping. Adult bed bugs have flat rusty-red-colored oval bodies. Adult bed bugs are about the size of an apple seed, they are big enough to be easily seen, but often hide in cracks in furniture, floors, or walls. When bed bugs feed, their bodies swell and become brighter red. They can live for several months without feeding on a host.

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The Law on Heat and Hot Water

The law states that from October 1 through May 31:

  • 6am-10pm: If outside it’s <55°, inside must be >68° everywhere in your apartment.

  • 10pm-6am: If outside it’s <40°, inside must be >55° everywhere in your apartment.

  • Hot water: >120° at the tap, 24 hours/day, 365 days/year.

IF YOUR LANDLORD DOES NOT MAINTAIN THOSE MINIMUM TEMPERATURES, you should:
click here to find out…

Bedbug Treatment – from a contractor

Fact sheet from Manhattan Legal Services and Pestaway


Pestaway Bed Bug Treatment Preparation List

Because this is a second attempt at treatment, you may have already completed step one (covering your mattress and pillows). Therefore, please alter your preparation accordingly. To ensure success in solving your bed bug problem, it is crucial that you complete all the steps on this list.

ITEMS NEEDED (available at front desk)

  1. Very sturdy garbage bags (clear or black are fine).
  2. Pest Away-approved, zipper-lock, polyester, double knit, stretch material mattress covers.
  3. Pest Away-approved zippered pillow covers.
  4. Powerful canister vacuum with bags.
  5. Steri-Fab.
  6. PackTite “cooker” to treat items that cannot be washed or sprayed.

PREPARATION Step One

Remove all bed linens and put on mattress and pillow covers. It is recommended that these covers be left on permanently.

Step Two

1. All clothing and personal items must be put in garbage bags and sealed tightly.

Garbage bags are available at the front desk.

2. Items can be cleaned/treated either before they are sealed in bags or after the exterminator comes, but it must be done before items are removed from bags and put away.

3. Washable items MUST be washed and placed in dryer. You should drop your laundry off for wash/fold service and then submit the ticket to the front desk for payment before you pick it up. The hotel expects to pay up to $25 per tenant for laundry and dry cleaning. For reimbursement requests above this amount, please call Roz Black of Manhattan Legal Services at 646-442-3134 so that she can discuss it with the hotel’s lawyer.

4. Items that cannot be washed and put in dryer should be dry cleaned. Dry cleaning tickets should also be submitted at the front desk for payment.

S. Items that cannot be washed or dry cleaned such as shoes, suitcases, bags, etc. should first be vacuumed and then sprayed with Steri-Fab. Vacuums and Steri-Fab will be available at the desk.

6. Bagged and treated items should be removed from your room and stored in designated rooms on each floor.

7. Once these items are bagged and treated DO NOT unpack them until you receive the okay from Pest Away.

 

Step Three

All books and papers should be sealed in bags and kept there for 8 months. For a limited amount of items that are needed sooner, the hotel will have available a PackTite, which is a suitcase-sized “cooker” that is used to heat items up to kill bedbugs. Each tenant will be allowed to put one bankers box (12 x 10 x 15) full of items in the PackTite. These items could alternatively be vacuumed and sprayed with Sterifab, but the spray may damage them.

Step Four

Loosen electrical plates on all sockets in the room to be treated so that exterminator can properly treat these key areas where bed bugs love to nest.

Step Five

Vacuum all of the cracks and crevices of the room as close to the exterminator visit as possible. Vacuums are at the front desk.

POST TREATMENT

1. You must vacuum EVERY DAY for a minimum of three to four weeks. Areas to vacuum include floors, headboards, baseboards and every conceivable crack and crevice in the room. The goal is to extract bed bugs and newly hatched bugs from these areas. THE VACUUM BAG MUST BE TAKEN OUT OF THE VACUUM, PLACED IN A PLASTIC BAG AND DISCARDED EACH TIME YOU STOP VACUUMING FOR 30 MINUTES OR MORE!

  1. You should sleep in the bed a minimum of 4 nights a week to draw out bugs.
  2. Everything should be kept packed up until okayed by Pestaway.

EXTERMINATION SCHEDULE

  1. Necessary preparation items to be at desk by Thursday, June 17.
  2. Tenants to pack up personal items and do preparations by treatment day which varies by floor.
  3. Exterminator to treat 4th & 5th Floors on July 1 (Round One).
  4. Exterminator to treat 2nd & 3rd Floors on July 2 (Round One).
  5. Exterminator to treat 4th & 5th Floors on July 22 (Round Two)
  6. Exterminator to treat 2nd & 3rd Floors on July 23 (Round Two).

If you cannot be home on the treatment days, you must leave your room key with another tenant or the hotel desk.

You and any cats will need to be out of your room for several hours on treatment days which includes the treatment time and time for the chemicals to dry and odors to dissipate.

 

TENANTS IN BUILDINGS IN FORECLOSURE

If you have the misfortune of being a tenant in a building in foreclosure, you should be aware that you have certain rights under a federal law known as The Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act of 2009.  Here is some important information about this legislation:

  • The PTFA, originally S. 896, now Public Law 111-22, has been in effect since it was signed into law by President Obama on May 20, 2009, as part of The Helping Families Save Their Homes Act of 2009.
  • The PTFA is the law of the land.  It is in effect nationwide – on the federal, state, and local levels – and operates and is enforceable in all jurisdictions and localities.  It is applicable to all residential properties sold at foreclosure after May 20, 2009.
  • The purpose of the PTFA is to provide renters with a legal mechanism with which to confront the possibility of displacement and to ward off homelessness.
  • The PTFA mandates everywhere in the nation that:
    • New owners of residential properties purchased in foreclosure who wish to evict current tenants must give them a minimum of 90 days’ notice to vacate before the effective date of such notice.
    • New owners of foreclosed properties must honor existing leases (“entered into before the notice of foreclosure”) until the end of their term.  In other words, new owners or their agents are prohibited from unilaterally breaking a lease to cut short a tenancy on the grounds of new ownership.  Consequently, tenants with a one-year or other fixed-term lease may remain in place until their lease expires.  There are two exceptions to this rule:
      • When the new owner plans to make the residential property his or her primary address.
      • Where a tenant is without a lease (for example, month to month) or has “a lease terminable at will under State law.”
        • However, in both cases, the tenant must be given a 90-day notice of the intent to evict.
  • The PFTA also mandates everywhere in the nation that:
    • The 90 days’ notice must be given to anyone who, as of the date of the notice of foreclosure, is a “bona fide” tenant, whether or not there is a lease.
      • PTFA establishes several criteria for what qualifies a lease or tenancy as bona fide:
        • The tenant cannot be the mortgagor or the child, spouse, or parent of the mortgagor.
        • The lease or tenancy must be the result of an arms-length transaction. (Answer.com defines this as a transaction in which the parties involved have no personal relationship to each other and are not subject to any duress or pressure from each other.)
        • The rent required under the lease cannot be substantially less than the fair market rent for the property OR the rent is subsidized by a Federal, state, or local subsidy.  (It is uncertain whether a rent-stabilized or rent-controlled tenancy is “bona fide.”)
  • The PTFA  provides specific protections for Section 8 tenants on foreclosed properties.  It requires new owners to:
    • Honor the lease between the former owner and the Section 8 tenant, and
    • Honor the housing assistance payments contract between the previous owner and the public housing agency that administers the Section 8 voucher
  • The protections provided by the PTFA are a floor not a ceiling.  In other words, they are minimum protections and, as such, do not supersede greater protections – such as longer advance notice or additional related protections – provided by State or local law.
  • All the renter protection provisions expire at the end of 2012.
  • All the renter protection provisions are self-executing.  That is, no federal agency, including HUD, is responsible for enforcing the PFTA.  Tenants facing eviction due to a foreclosure of their building can use PFTA’s protections as a claim or defense in a court proceeding.
  • Awareness of the PFTA’s provisions is very limited among both tenants and housing court judges and elected officials.  So spread the word!
  • An excellent additional resource on the PFTA on the Web site of the National Low Income Housing Coaltion.  It provides a “Renters in Foreclosure Toolkit” at http://www.nlihc.org/template/page.cfm?id=227.

Rights of Rent Stabilized Tenants in Co-ops

Rent-stabilized tenants who believe they are being harassed have the right to file a complaint with the New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal, also known as DHCR, the state agency which oversees rent-regulated apartments. (The state Attorney General also provides assistance to tenants with harassment problems in some instances.)

If, after an administrative hearing, DHCR finds that harassment has taken place, it may levy steep fines against the responsible entity or individual. Landlords – in this case, the co-op board of directors or the management company – found guilty of harassment are subject of fines of up to $5,000 for each violation. Under certain circumstances, harassment of a rent-regulated tenant may constitute a class E felony. Furthermore, DHCR will permit no rent increases once there has been a finding of harassment until there is a finding that the harassment has ended.

Tenants may also bring a claim in housing court and the court may issue restraining orders against the landlord if violations have been found.

TO BUILDING SERVICES

The rent- stabilization law protects tenants in rent-stabilized apartments from service reductions by landlords, in this case the co-op board or management company. A co-op board of directors may be legally prevented from changing, reducing, or eliminating a building service they consider no longer needed or too costly to maintain. Service reductions which will impact rent-stabilized tenants must undergo a filing and review process with DHCR’s Office of Rent Administration, where the board may or may not be granted permission to eliminate or reduce the service.

The costs of major capital improvements (MCIs) paid for out of the reserve fund of a housing co-op, unless reimbursed by a special assessment on unit owners or shareholders, and those paid from grants from governmental entities, cannot be passed on to tenants living in rent-stabilized units. (The most common MCIs are new roofs, elevators, boilers, or windows in every apartment.)

TO ORGANIZE AND PROTECT THEIR RIGHTS

While their status as non-shareholders deprives rent-stabilized tenants of the right to participate in shareholder meetings or otherwise play a role in the operation or management of the cooperative, they still have a legal right to organize. State law allows them to form, join, and participate in tenants’ organizations for the purpose of protecting their rights, including organizing rent strikes.

In addition, tenants’ groups have the right to meet in any common area in their building, such as lobbies and halls, in a peaceful manner and as long as these meetings do not interfere with the right of others to enter, leave, or move about the building. Landlords are forbidden by law from interfering with tenant-organizing activities or harassing a tenant from participating in them.

 

SONYMA Products for First Time Homebuyers

The State of New York Mortgage Agency (SONYMA) offers five mortgage programs as well as mortgage credit certificates, to assist first-time homebuyers with the purchase of a home in New York State.  SONYMA mortgage programs feature competitive interest rates, low down payment requirements, flexible underwriting guidelines, no prepayment penalties and down payment assistance while mortgage credit certificates feature a Federal income tax credit.  Each of these features are designed to make your home purchase more affordable. All SONYMA loans are financed through the sale of tax exempt bonds. 

Mortgage Credit Certificates
Used in conjunction with a participating lender’s fixed-rate mortgage product; provides a dollar-for-dollar tax credit equal to 20% of the borrower’s annual mortgage interest costs when filing his/her Federal income tax return.
MORTGAGE PROGRAMS: 
 
1) Homes for Veterans Program:  A program specifically designed for military veterans. Allows a qualified veteran to apply for any of the below listed SONYMA programs with more favorable terms.

2) Remodel New York:  First-time homebuyers* can buy an existing home and finance the cost of renovating it with one low, fixed rate mortgage.

3) Achieving the Dream:  Features lower interest rates than other SONYMA programs. Available to lower income first-time homebuyers.  Click the link below to learn about incentives for purchasers of newly constructed, energy efficient homes.

4) Construction Incentive Program:  First-time homebuyers* can use this program to buy a home under construction or rehabilitation. Click the link below to learn about incentives for purchasers of newly constructed, energy efficient homes.

5) Low Interest Rate Program:  SONYMA’s standard mortgage program for a first-time homebuyer* purchasing a newly constructed or existing home.

What To Do When There Is New Construction Right Next To Your Building

 

New construction of apartment buildings, hotels and dorms is a fact of life in New York City, particularly in downtown Manhattan. Dozens of permits are filed every year in the Lower East Side/East Village alone. If you live in an apartment building next to a vacant lot or a low rise building (4 or fewer stories), there’s a significant chance that you may find yourself living next door to a demolition site and/or construction site for a couple of years. There are risks to any building,particularly 100 year old tenement buildings, when you are living next door to a building that is being demolished, or a site where excavation, or new construction is taking place. Here’s what you can do to protect your home if you find yourself in this situation.

 

1) Get Apartment Insurance: Whether you own a co-op or you’re a renter, you should get insurance for your apartment. If you’re a tenant, your landlord has insurance to protect his/her building, but that insurance offers you no protection as a tenant if you suddenly find that you need to vacate your building because construction next door to you has damaged your building’s foundation.

Apartment insurance is not very expensive. You can buy a renter’s insurance policy for less than $350 per year. It will cover you for thousands of dollars in lost possessions if, in a worst case scenario, your building is vacated and demolished by the NYC Dept. of Buildings. In these rare instances, tenants have lost all their possessions without any real opportunity to remove their belongings. Insurance can’t replace precious items of sentimental value, but it can compensate you for lost furnishings. Policies also typically will cover relocation expenses if you need to vacate your apartment for months and rent another apartment or stay in a hotel while your building is being repaired. If you don’t have insurance, the Red Cross can provide you with temporary housing, but it may not be to your liking or in a desirable location.

 

2) Be Proactive: If demolition or construction is happening next door, find out who the owner of the property is and who the demolition contractor is, and get their contact information. You can find this information on www.nyc.gov by going to the Dept. of Building’s site and by looking on ACRIS.If you’re a tenant, ask your landlord to contact them to find out what their building plans are. Before contraction begins, your landlord should hire an engineer to take photographs of your basement walls and the exterior walls of the building to document whether there are pre-existing cracks. If
there are cracks, they should repair them to strengthen your building. You should also take photos of your apartment walls. If not, the adjacent owner may say any cracks were pre-existing conditions.

The adjacent property owner is required to hire engineers to do “soil borings” to get soil samples which help them find out how much pressure per square inch the soil can hold. A site may have an underground stream or an oil tank that needs to be removed because it’s an environmental hazard.
They also should dig “test pits” next to adjacent buildings to see how deep the foundations are. Your landlord’s engineer should get copies of all of these test results. The adjacent owner must obtain permits to do any work on their site. If they don’t have permits posted, call 311 and ask that
they put a Stop Work Order on the owner immediately.

When the adjacent owner is ready to excavate, your landlord should find out what their plans are for shoring up your building. They typically underpin adjacent buildings (pour mortar underneath the adjacent foundations) to solidify the foundations. Your landlord’s engineer should install crack
monitors and vibration monitors to ensure that excavation is not causing excessive stress to your building. If you find that cracks are forming, you should immediately call 311 and ask that DOB put a Stop Work Order on the construction next door. Your landlord or co-op board can demand they
repair your building, but resolution of the matter may require going to court. If necessary, DOB may shore up your building with metal straps to prevent further cracking. It’s possible they may temporarily vacate your building while they do an assessment of whether it’s safe for tenants to
occupy it. Fear of a Vacate Order should not prevent you from determining if it’s safe to occupy your building.

 

3) Know Your Rights: If you have to vacate, you must protect your right to return to the building by filing a form with the NYS Division of Housing and Community Renewal, provided that you are a rent stabilized tenant. It will enable you to hold onto your apartment for $1 per month. Tenants
who fail to do this can lose their apartment because they are considered to have abandoned it. You may need to call upon local elected officials and tenant advocacy organizations like the Cooper Square Committee to help you navigate the politics of getting your building repaired so that you can
move back in. We’re here to help. Contact us at 212-228-8210 if you are concerned about demolition or construction next to your building.

 

Click here to view: What To Do When There Is New Constrution Right Next To Your Building

The ABC’s Of Renters Insurance

If you’re a renter, you may not think you need insurance at all. But you may not realize that your landlord’s policy doesn’t cover any of your personal property. What would happen to your belongings if:

• Your apartment building burned down?
• A thief broke into your town house?
• A guest slipped and injured himself in your kitchen?
• The home you’re renting suffered water damage?
• Excavation next to your building damages your building, forcing you to vacate?

Without renters insurance, you’ve got no coverage for personal property loss or damage. Fortunately, you can get affordable renters insurance to protect you in situations like these.

 

Standard Coverage:

Every basic renters insurance policy will come with two main protections:

1) Physical damage coverage and
2) liability coverage. The physical damage component of the policy will pay out benefits if the belongings you store in your rental are lost or damaged. For instance, if your computer equipment were stolen from your apartment, the physical damage portion of your policy would reimburse you. Secondly, renters insurance policies offer liability coverage. This portion of the policy will pay for your legal defense and any judgments against you
if you are sued for an accident or injury that occurred on your property. Some policies include another important type of coverage: Relocation costs in the event your apartment is damaged by a fire or by construction next door that undermines your building’s foundation. It’s important that you ask if the standard policy includes relocation costs. If not, ask that this be added to the policy.

 

Types of physical damage covered:

In the insurance industry, the typical renters insurance policy is known as “HO-4” coverage. This type of policy will protect you from 17 different perils, including:

• Falling objects

• Lightning or fire damage

• Smoke

• Theft

• Vandalism

• Electrical surge damage to appliances

• Wind and hail damage

• Gas explosion

• Water-related damage from home utilities

 

Policy Offerings:

Be sure to get insurance that provides “replacement cost coverage” rather than “actual cash value (ACV) coverage”. With actual cash value renters coverage, the insurance company will only pay you for the present-day value of the lost or damaged item(s). For instance, you may have bought a computer two years ago for $900, but after factoring in depreciation, the computer may only be worth $200, which is all you will be reimbursed. On the other hand, with replacement cost coverage, your insurer will pay out whatever it would cost to buy the lost or damaged item new today, which could be $900 or more to replace your computer.

Shop for the best policy: You should get a price quote for the annual cost of the Renters Insurance from at least 2 companies. We don’t recommend any company in particular. The following companies all underwrite Renters Insurance policies: Allstate, Castle Rock Agency, Farmers, Geico, Nationwide, State Farm. Give some of them a call and find a policy you can afford:

 

Click here to view: The ABC’s Of Renters Insurance

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How to Challenge a Rent Overcharge

The Rent Stabilization law provides two alternate methods for a tenant to collect rent overcharge penalties from an owner. A tenant may begin to use either one of these methods only after the New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal (DHCR) issues a final order establishing the legal regulated rent and determining a penalty.

The penalty for a rent overcharge is the amount an owner collected above the legal regulated rent plus accrued interest. For a complaint filed on or after April 1, 1984, in the event of a willful overcharge, the penalty equals three times the amount of the overcharge for two years prior to the filing of the complaint.

A final order is a Rent Administrator’s order which is not challenged administratively by the filing of a timely Petition for Administrative Review (PAR) with DHCR, or, if challenged, the order issued by the Commissioner determining the PAR.

The filing of a PAR within 35 days of the Rent Administrator’s order by the owner or tenant will prevent the tenant from collecting the penalty awarded until the Commissioner rules on the PAR. Following the issuance of the PAR order, an aggrieved party may commence an Article 78 (Civil Practice Law and Rules) court proceeding which will similarly delay the tenant’s ability to file the order as a judgment (see Method #2 below) until a final determination is reached by the court.

The timely filing of a PAR against the Rent Administrator’s overcharge determination does not affect that part of the order adjusting the tenant’s legal regulated rent. Therefore, unless the commissioner specifically issues a “stay order” delaying the adjustment to the rent, the tenant may begin to pay the lower rent effective on the first rent payment date following the issuance of the order even if the owner files a PAR.

After the 35 days for filing of the PAR have expired, and if neither the owner nor the tenant has filed a PAR, the tenant can collect the rent overcharge penalty. The tenant must choose only one of the two alternate methods described below.

Offset Method
The tenant may deduct up to 20% of the penalty from the monthly rent until the penalty is completely offset. If 20% of the penalty exceeds the tenant’s monthly rent, the tenant need not pay any rent until the full amount of the refund due is recovered. Before exercising this option, the overcharged tenant must wait 35 days form the issuance of the Rent Administrator’s order. As note above, during this period, any party aggrieved by the order may file a PAR (DHCR Form RAR-2) challenging the correctness of the order. If a PAR if filed, the overcharge penalty cannot be offset until the PAR order affirms that an overcharge occurred and determines the final amount of the penalty.

Judgment Method
The filing of a judgment may result in a lien being placed against the owner’s real property. If the owner does not satisfy the judgment, the lien may be enforced against the owner’s property by a county sheriff or the city sheriff. To use this option, the penalty must exceed $1,000, or if less, the tenant must have moved from the apartment. Under this option, the tenant must also wait 35 days for the PAR filing period to expire.

After the 35 day PAR filing period expires without the filing of a PAR of 60 days after the determination of the PAR affirming an overcharge award and if no court challenge is commenced within those 60 days, the tenant will be required to file with the County Clerk a Notice to Rent Stabilized Tenant Concerning Payment of Penalties which Landlord Has Been Directed to Pay by an Administrator’s Order (DHCR Form RN-14) and the Judgment Form (DHCR Form RN-14.1). Before the tenant may file these forms with the County Clerk, the tenant must first send the Notice (Form RN-14) to DHCR’s Overcharge Case Intake Section at Gertz Plaza, 92-31 Union Hall Street, Jamaica, New York, 11433. The tenant should not send to DHCR the Judgment Form (Form RN-14). DHCR will certify that the owner has not filed a PAR or a proceeding for judicial review, or, if filed, that those proceedings have concluded. DHCR will return to the tenant the completed Notice (Form RN-14) with a certified copy of the Rent Administrator’s order. The tenant must then complete the affidavit contained in the Notice (Form RN-14) stating that no portion of the overcharge penalty has been OFFSET against the monthly rent (Method #1 above).

The tenant then files the Notice, the Judgment Form and a certified copy of the overcharge order with the County Clerk’s office in the county in which the property is located. The County Clerk’s office will then docket the Judgment.

While prior owners who collected overcharges are jointly and severally liable for the overcharges they collected, the refund of any overcharge, including penalties collected on or after April 1, 1984 is the obligation of the current owner except in certain limited cases, primarily involving judicial sales. In those limited cases, prior owners are solely liable for overcharges actually collected by them. For complaints filed and overcharges collected before April 1, 1984, refunds and penalties are the obligation of the owner who collected the overcharge.

For more information or assistance, call the DHCR Rent InfoLine, or visit your or County Rent Office.

Central
92-31 Union Hall Street
4th Floor
Jamaica, NY 11433
(718)739-6400

Brooklyn
55 Hanson Place
7th Floor
Brooklyn, NY 11217

Upper Manhattan
163 West 125th Street
5th Floor
New York, NY 10027
North side of 110 St. and above

Nassau County
50 Clinton Street
6th Floor
Hempstead, NY 11550

Westchester County
55 Church Street
White Plain, NY 10601

Lower Manhattan
25 Beaver Street 5th Floor
New York, NY10004
South side of 110 St. and below

Bronx
1 Fordam Plaza
2nd Floor
Bronx, NY 10458

Staten Island
60 Bay Street
7th Floor
Staten Island, NY 10301

Rockland County
94-96 North Main Street
Spring Valley, NY 10977