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Judge Marcy Friedman’s order referring the IPN J-51 case to the Division of Housing and Community Renewal (DHCR) was sent to DHCR on July 15, 2009 .
Her order sets a six-month time frame for DHCR to decide IPN’s rent stabilization status. This is the time frame proposed by the attorney for plaintiffs and for IPNTA - Seth Miller.
Here is the background on this litigation: the landlord received a tax abatement which required this development to remain rent regulated. Instead of regulating rents, or even revealing the existence of the tax abatement, the landlord took this development out of the Mitchell Lama rent regulation program in 2004 and increased rents dramatically for new tenants. This legal proceeding has been ongoing for four years in an attempt to obtain rent regulation for all IPN apartments. The outcome of this litigation will affect all IPN tenants as well as residents of other developments across the city.
What Can Tenants Expect?
All tenants – voucher, LAP or free market -- will benefit from stabilization. A voucher tenant whose apartment becomes “rent stabilized” can keep the voucher if the tenant needs assistance paying the base rent. The tenant’s share of rent remains the same; it is based on a percentage of income. The government’s share will be reduced because the base rent will be reduced.
If DHCR establishes that IPN apartments are rent stabilized as we believe they should, any rent rollback will vary depending on your tenant status and whether or not you filed a rent overcharge complaint. Those who filed overcharge complaints with the DHCR last year at IPNTA's urging, will see a greater benefit than others. The DHCR generally looks back four years in determining a base rent. For those who filed a rent overcharge complaint in 2008 the four year look-back will be to 2004. Those who did not file a complaint in 2008 may have to file a complaint to qualify for a rent reduction and if they qualify the look-back will be to four years before the filing of the complaint.
Outcomes are never guaranteed. We are, nevertheless, hopeful. We look forward to a quick pro-tenant decision from the DHCR in the time frame set out by the judge’s order.
DHCR is the New York State agency that administers rent stabilization. Some tenants may wonder why we didn’t start this J-51 proceeding at the DHCR in the first place. The reason is simple -- the DHCR under the previous Republican Pataki Administration was NOT the same agency as today’s DHCR. Politics has a big impact on How regulatory agencies behave. The DHCR has changed since it has been under a Democratic administration.
ENERGY APPLIANCES, BILLS
The IPNTA has been in conference with Stellar Management about obtaining energy star appliances (refrigerators, dishwashers) for all tenants. We know that the old refrigerators are eating away at our energy bills. We hope to have some concrete answers shortly.
In the meantime, anyone who does not have a working refrigerator and has not gotten a good response from maintenance should contact IPNTA immediately. We have helped countless tenants with this situation already. Management has now agreed that you can purchase your own refrigerator, but spec pages and model number must go to management for approval first. They will not allow ice-making refrigerators. We think it’s worth the wait to see if we can get new refrigerators for all tenants but you do have a choice now thanks to our negotiations with management.(see dishwasher article)
Regarding billing complaints, Councilmember Gerson’s office is handling all of the complaint forms distributed by the IPNTA and filled out by tenants who felt their electrical bills were either too high or had mistakes. This involves the Public Service Comission. Senator Squadron’s office and Assembly Member Deborah Glick’s office also contacted us this week to see what they can assist with. Both offices will discuss the issue with Gerson’s office and we expect updates from them this week.
If you contacted any of the elected’s offices directly, they are following up with the IPNTA.
Finally, though no IPN tenants responded to our presentations on HEAP (Home Energy Assistance Program) we are further investigating the program which assists with energy bills for those who have extreme hardship. Squadron’s office said that although this program is limited to the winter, there is legislation in place to overturn that. We will repost the info once we have responses to our latest inquiries.
WHY BE A MEMBER OF THE TENANTS ASSOCIATION?
We are YOUR representative with management, city, state and federal agencies, the community board, our political leaders, and other tenant organizations. We work for legislation that supports tenants rights and rent regulation, preservation of affordable housing, and other political issues that effect all of us. The more members, the stronger voice we have! Your membership fees help pay legal fees, research, for these newsletters, and more.
A sincere thanks to all of you who have joined again this year. And much appreciation to those of you who came out and voted in the last IPNTA election. Until 2010, you may still join for this year. $25.00 per tenant or $15.00 per senior. Check to IPNTA, with name, address, email and phone in the Tenant Box in the lobby. (That’s about $2 or $1.50 per month – worth the price!)
.to departing board member Kathleen McGovern, 310 Greenwich's vice president for a number of years. Being a building VP involves many duties among them attending board meetings and committee meetings, meeting with management about tenant issues, distribution of newsletters and other information to the tenants, aiding tenants with their needs, attending outside functions that relate to tenant affairs, plus more.
This is a volunteer job. We truly appreciate Kathleen's time and input and welcome the new 310 VP, B.J. Berti to the board. .
and to the following tenants who volunteered for the Nominating Committee this year: FOR 80 N.Moore: Elizabeth Saenger and Gertrude Stein; 40 Harrison: Felicia Balicer and Doris Denizard; 310 Greenwich: June Grancio and Beth Rosaler; Townhouses: Yvonne Fox and Maureen Silverman.
We would also like to give a special thanks to PHILIP STEIN, a dear IPN tenant and respected artist who passed away recently. Philip, along with his wife and partner, Gertrude, always supported our IPNTA activities, as well as many of their own causes. We will always remember Phillip as a sensitive, gentle yet strong friend and neighbor, who never hesitated to hold up a sign or march for the rights of others. Phillip, you are in our hearts forever. Here is the link to a New York Times article about him http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/18/arts/design/18stein.html and the link to view some of his work: http://www.mexicanmuralschool.com
The IPNTA was instrumental in helping several voucher tenants obtain smaller apartments when the composition of their family changed. Stellar Management originally said that anyone who was required to downsize had to move. We won that point on behalf of tenants in our negotiated deal. Then, last year, the tenant right to downsize within his or her own complex became the law and HPD can be notified if there is a problem. Of course, IPNTA should be notified as well.
We responded to concerns from several tenants that the entry at 310 Greenwich Street was not level and was causing some people to trip. We brought this up with Management and in response to our concerns they installed a temporary measure to help the situation. They now report that plans are underway to re-do the sidewalk entrance in front of the building, which should remedy the safety issues. Please let us know when issues arise so we can go into action. You can email us, talk to your building representative or leave a note in the IPN tenant box in the lobby of each building.
Also fyi-- the Board of Education is replacing the windows in the TLC school on the South Plaza. Information provided to IPNTA by building management indicates that they are required to erect sidewalk sheds to protect pedestrians from falling debris. We do not know when the job will be finished but will keep a tab on it.
Over the year the IPNTA has heard from a number of tenants who COULD NOT get a quick replacement of their dishwashers. IPNTA had negotiated an informal agreement with management, saying that within 3 days the tenant should receive a dishwasher in working condition or, if not available, a new dishwasher will be purchased. IPNTA got results for those tenants who were told they had to wait longer than the three days.Please mention this agreement when speaking to maintenance, but if you do not get results be sure to let us know so we can step in and help.
As of this writing, voucher tenants have begun to receive their recertification rental breakdowns from HPD.
The CATHOLIC CHARITIES ORGANIZATION has begun to offer tenant assistance. Most, if not all voucher tenants at IPN have received a letter offering help with recertification and apartment inspection. We spoke to HPD, which did not know these letters were going out so didn’t informed tenants in advance. What confused many was that the letter came after recertification was due. We have asked HPD to discuss all of this with the organization. In the meantime, tenants do not need to do anything and SHOULD NOT WORRY. If Catholic Charities continues to offer assistance in this matter next year, we’ve asked that they do a timely mailing. The IPNTA will also continue to offer top rate assistance to any tenant who needs help in filling out voucher applications or has a problem after recertification.
Tenants have brought dog-related issues to our attention.
In 40 Harrison Street, on the C or B line, there seems to be a dog that is often being confined at night – perhaps in the bathroom – and barks for hours. This is a problem both for the dog and your neighbors. We suggest the owner addresses the problem before tenants concerned take further action against this cruelty.
We have also gotten complaints of dogs being walked off their leashes. In July a dog attacked and bit a smaller dog several times (sending it to the hospital) while off leash. This could have have been avoided easily.
Townhouse residents have complained that “tower” neighbors are walking their dogs – some off leashes – in the plaza areas and not cleaning up after them. (Folks are not cleaning up in other areas of the neighborhood as well.) Management has been advised of the plaza situations.
PLEASE USE A LEASH and CLEAN UP AFTER YOUR DOG. IT ‘S THE LAW, but more to the point it also is about being a good neighbor! Thanks!
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