Good Neighbors?

A condo building is asking $15,000 a month for the pain of being next to construction at a midtown library in a case that could establish new ground on adjacent construction disputes.

Thousands of apartments rented to non-profit cluster housing providers for the homeless could be declared subject to rent stabilized rents under a lawsuit brought by the Legal Aid Society. The suit basically alleges that the contracts with the non-profits create illusory tenancies.

The battle over rezoning East Harlem for higher density housing development boils down to a potential 751 apartment, 187 of which would have subsidized rents, according to Crains analysis. The total potential additional units under the Mayor’s initial proposal are only 1,878, with 625 of those subsidized.

The Division of Housing and Community Renewal has issued a new RTP-19 form, Owner’s Application to Restore Rent, dated 8-17. The major difference with the old form appears to be a clear warning that filing a false instrument could result in imprisonment. And, yesterday, DHCR changed the layout of its Rent Administration website, but they claim everything is still there somewhere.

As of Monday, August 28th, antenna and curb cut job filings at the City Department of Buildings, have to be done online through DOB NOW.

“Micro” units in the suburbs may be about 50% bigger and 30% cheaper than Manhattan, but they are just as popular according to the pre-leasing figures for Uno in Yonkers.

HPD, yesterday, issued a Request for Expressions of Interest to redevelop the Greenpoint Hospital campus in Brooklyn with 500 units of 100% affordable housing, a 200 bed shelter, commercial space, community facility space, and public open space.

Anyone wishing to help out survivors of Hurricane Harvey in Texas can find reputable agencies through ABO’s NAHB affiliates, and, if you are worried about the next flood here, the NAA has a library on emergency preparedness to check out.

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No More 80-20

The New York State Division of Homes and Community Renewal has stopped providing tax exempt bond financing for 80-20 projects. It will only be funding 100% affordable projects for the time being, according to the Commissioner.

Proposed rezoning of the Jerome Avenue area in the Bronx moved into the formal Land Use Review process this week, despite controversy.

Mayor de Blasio is holding a hearing today on a bill creating a rebuttable presumption that owners are harassing tenants if, for example, they contact them at work without prior written approval. He is expected to sign it along with a host of other bills affecting building owners, including a requirement to have a written smoking policy.

New York City Councilwoman Margaret Chin doesn’t think elected officials have enough power to block development. She is so opposed to a residential project on the Lower East Side that she has introduced legislation to allow the Mayor, Borough President, or a vote by two thirds of the Council Land Use Committee to shortcut the required time frames to change zoning. She is apparently hoping to make the project illegal before it can be built.

U.S. Rep. Joe Crowley from Queens this week touted his Rent Relief Act, providing tax credits to low and moderate income renters who pay more than 30% of their income in rent. No predictions on the likelihood of how the proposal from a Democrat congressman will fare in the Washington budget battles.

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Glug, Glug

President Trump, Tuesday, reversed an Obama-era Executive Order that would have resulted in expansion of regulated flood plain areas, including large swaths of Brooklyn, Lower Manhattan, southern Long Island and the lower Hudson Valley. The changes would have increased flood insurance costs in those areas and potentially barred federally insured mortgages. Even Mayor de Blasio opposed new flood maps that were originally proposed. Meanwhile, NIMBYs used the flood threat to oppose new housing in Long Island City this week.

HUD this week also backed away from the controversial Small Area Fair Market Rent plan to adjust Section 8 rents by zip code, suspending implementation for at least two years.

New York’s top multifamily lenders also happen to lend to owners on NYC Public Advocate Tish Jame’s Worst Landlords List. She issued a list of bank names on Tuesday. Most of the banks that commented insisted that they only lend on existing rent rolls and that they demand escrows for repairs when dealing with troubled properties.

Claims that preferences for local residents when renting new subsidized housing discriminate against minorities have expanded to the suburbs, with the latest lawsuit filed against the Town of Bedford in Westchester.

Asking rents in New York City have increased 33% since 2010, according to a StreetEasy analysis, although the growth rate has slowed since 2012. Asking rents on the bottom 20% of the market grew about 3% in the last year while rents in the top tier stagnated, the report said. Rents on high end units in San Francisco, Seattle, and Los Angeles, meanwhile, grew at an even faster rate than in New York.

A study by OneTitle identified 541 vacant buildings in New York City, or, as they styled them, redevelopment opportunities. The report is free with registration at

If you have a super paying even partial rent in a stabilized unit, don’t expect to get the unit back if you fire him or he quits, a recent Housing Court decision in Richards v. Barrows confirms. Payment of any part of the rent puts the unit into regulation, the court said.

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Pay Lawyers, Not Rent

Mayor de Blasio has scheduled a noon press conference to sign the tenant right to counsel bill into law.

As we blasted in our email alert yesterday, the New York City Council, passed almost 20 anti-owner bills Wednesday under the banner of tenant protection. Among the more egregious was a bill creating a rebuttable presumption that owners are guilty of harassing tenants if an essential service is “interrupted,” contacting the tenant at work without prior written approval or contacting them outside of 9-5 weekdays. Full details of all the  new legislation will be in the September New York Housing Journal.

In other action, the Council approved a major rezoning of midtown east to encourage new office construction, although the benefits may be long in coming.

Finally, in an action packed session, the Council extended the law barring smoking in common areas of multiple dwellings to smaller 3-10 unit buildings. Previously, only buildings over 10 units were covered. Further, every building will have to adopt a smoking policy and notify residents of the rules, if any, annually and with leases or purchase agreements, beginning one year after the Mayor signs the bill—which is expected shortly.

Meanwhile, Council members keep coming up with new ideas to increase operating costs. A bill is being introduced to require buildings with more than 100 units to have a translator on staff for any language spoken by more than 10 percent of the tenants.

If your mortgage is set to adjust to Libor in 2021 or later, you have a problem. Libor won’t be available. Check your mortgage documents and make sure new mortgages provide for a mutually agreed rate.

Amazon isn’t content to just deliver to your building anymore, they want to provide a package reception facility. They are offering storage boxes, but haven’t announced pricing yet.

Those foreign buyers you hear so much about? Canadians buying in Florida, according to a recent report. And New York isn’t even in the top five states for foreign buyers, 60 percent of whom become residents, not absentee owners.

New York City says it has stepped up recycling enforcement this month. Let us know if you are getting more recycling violations. Email

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Look, Up In The Air

It’s summertime, and the City Buildings Department is turning its attention to outside space, issuing a reminder that balcony screens or enclosures need to have a permit, and suggesting, surprisingly, that rooftop terraces and recreation areas need enclosures.

REBNY launched its expanded residential listing service Tuesday, with the capacity for brokers to syndicate listings to and other sites, but not Streeteasy.

Ten X Commercial this week issued a residential vacancy forecast of 11% for the New York metro area by year-end 2018, based on a projected 40,000 new apartment completions and flat or declining job growth. It’s a theory.

The Bronx Borough President, Wednesday, announced $7 million in capital funds would be directed to 10 apartment development projects to fund 1589 “affordable” units. That works out to $4,405 per subsidized unit on top of other benefits the projects are receiving.

Median rents and median asking rents are two different things. A report by RentHop analyzing asking rents citywide (with a neat interactive chart) found the median asking rent for a two bedroom on the lower east side was $3,495—134% of median income and three times the actual median rent in the neighborhood.

ABO members can register this month for free show passes and discounted education programs at the International Builders Show scheduled January 9-11th in Orlando. And, ABO members have until August 25th to file for additional rebates on products they’ve bought from April thru June from 50 manufacturers such as Lutron, Delta, Carrier, and Sherwin Williams.

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Can’t Do It In Person Anymore

Today is the last business day to submit 2017 NYC Boiler Inspection filings in person. Electronic filing will be required beginning August 14th.

Effective August 1st, the City Department of Sanitation will be enforcing new commercial recycling rules adopted last year. Stepped up residential enforcement can be expected while the inspectors are out. Look for an article detailing all the changes in the September New York Housing Journal.

An unwritten rule requiring proof of an access agreement with effected adjacent properties before the City Buildings Department will issue a permit is being reported by law firm Tarter, Krinsky, & Drogin.

The State Attorney General’s office is now requiring documentation to allow review of rent histories of regulated apartments before approving co-op or condo conversions, delaying decisions while records are gathered, according to law firm Herrick.

The Governor signed legislation, Tuesday, increasing the income level for eligibility for the Senior Citizen Homeowners Exemption (which applies to co-op and condo owners) to $50,000—the same as the current SCRIE level.

The New York City Housing Authority hasn’t been doing required lead paint inspections, according to a Daily News story yesterday about a probe of the agency by federal prosecutors.

The City Council Land Use Committee gave approval to a plan for rezoning midtown east for higher density office construction, almost guaranteeing eventual adoption. The City would tax the sale of new air rights transfers under the plan at 20% or $61.49 per foot, whichever is greater.

Prospect Lefferts Gardens is the toughest zip code in the City to add residential density, according to a BuildZoom analysis. Barely 500 units were added between 2000 and 2015. Number two area, Sunnyside, actually lost almost 500. But it turns out all you need to get new housing is for government to welcome it. New Rochelle has opened its doors.

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Legal Aid For Housing Court

The New York City Council yesterday passed legislation providing for free legal representation in housing court for all tenants earning under 200% of federal poverty levels (200% is currently $24,120 for an individual, $49,200 for a family of four). If signed by the Mayor, as expected, the plan would be fully implemented by July 31, 2022, but would apply to public housing tenants as early as this October.

After legal challenges prevented Mayor de Blasio from giving an across the board water rate credit to single family homeowners last year, the Mayor, last Friday, announced expanded credits for low income and senior homeowners and a new Multifamily Water Assistance Program which will give a $250 credit to about 40,000 “affordable” units that have regulatory agreements with the City.

The costs of garbage removal could be rising, or at least shifting, as the City has hired a consultant to explore a “pay as you throw” plan.

The eleventh time was the charm for Westchester County’s effort to end federal scrutiny of its local zoning. HUD has finally accepted a report by consultants that says town zoning that prevents multifamily development in large parts of the county is not racially discriminatory. The County Executive has insisted for years that the issue is economic, not racial, and that the County doesn’t control local zoning in the first place.

The metro New York region will see 27,000 new apartments completed this year, up from over 16,000 in 2016. Long Island City alone will add the most of any neighborhood, 3,700 units, followed by downtown Brooklyn and Jersey City, according to a report by RentCafe this week.

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Time To Take Out The Garbage

Mayor de Blasio’s latest assault on rats includes a proposal to prevent building owners in targeted areas from putting garbage out for collection before 4 a.m. on pick-up days and Increased organics collection requirements for multifamily properties.

The House subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development approved a fiscal 2018 budget proposal with $6.9 billion more than the President requested, but not necessarily enough more to continue all existing subsidies. The New York Housing Conference estimated that 14,000 voucher tenants around the state could lose funding.

No good deed goes unpunished when it comes to reporting illegal Airbnb apartment rentals. New York City apparently sees nothing wrong with fining building owners who report tenants breaking the law. Meanwhile, Newsday reports that Airbnb bookings near Jones Beach have quintupled since 2014 to almost 20,000. It is hot outside. A quick check for mid-week availability in August showed 300 units in elevator buildings listed.

The New York City Planning Commission, Monday, approved a major rezoning of Far Rockaway for higher density development. The proposal now goes to the City Council. They better hurry before Rockaway washes away.

City assessors did not visit 54% of the properties they were supposed to before valuing them, according to an audit by the State Comptroller issued yesterday. The investigation also found almost 100 global changes made to the Finance Department’s computerized assessment program with no record of who authorized them or why. Coincidentally, four potential City Council Speakers just signed a letter urging Mayor de Blasio to stop fighting a lawsuit claiming that City property tax assessments are unfair and discriminatory. Admit it and fix it, they say.

Rental and sales brokers are seeing their listings models attacked on all sides this week with Streeteasy and the Real Estate Board at war over competing platforms, and sites such as Nestio and Joinery trying different ways to cut out brokers entirely.

Mamaroneck building owners and tenants can expect to be surveyed by HUD on their experience with a Small Area Fair Market Rent pilot program. The test resulted in higher rents in the two affected zip codes than the rest of Westchester County. Other test areas being surveyed had a mix of higher and lower rents in their regions.

Mayor de Blasio, yesterday, trumpeted building or preserving 77,651 units of affordable housing since his election. But the actual number of new units completed so far is 4,145.

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New Law, Old News?

The State Legislature (probably temporarily) adjourned this week, but couldn’t leave Albany without passing a bill, to require rent stabilized lease riders to include information about ancillary service charges and describe them. If that sounds familiar, it’s because the rider already shows those items and amounts. If signed by the Governor, however, the rider will have to be revised within 120 days.

Mayor de Blasio’s plans for higher density housing in East Harlem were opposed by Community Board 11 at a raucous meeting this week. The  Board wants lower density and more units affordable to lower income tenants in exchange for approval, but protesters at the meeting opposed any change that might gentrify the neighborhood.

Some City Councilmen want to double the density of Airbnb guests permitted from two to four. The idea is to help B&B owners, but it isn’t clear how it squares with the Council’s general opposition to illegal occupancies. Several Long Island towns are taking the opposite tack. They now prohibit rentals for less than 14 days and want to raise the minimum to 30 days to discourage Airbnb hosts.

A Crown Heights building owner was found guilty, Tuesday, of three misdemeanor counts of illegally evicting tenants. The unusual case was brought by the State Attorney General in 2015. Meanwhile, Governor Cuomo launched a statewide multi-agency investigation of property owners using immigration status to harass tenants after an electrical contractor reportedly sent Queens tenants in a building he was working in a threatening letter.

Ossining, in Westchester County, is considering adopting Rent Stabilization although the consultant hired to review housing options noted that it depresses property taxes, encourages people to misuse space, and doesn’t have anything to do with tenant need.

The Rockland County Rent Guidelines Board on Monday approved increases of 0% for one year renewals and .5% for two year renewals, effective October 1st. New York City, Westchester and Nassau guidelines are all set to be voted this coming Tuesday. CHIP Executive Director Patrick Siconolfi testified at the New York City public hearing and faced a barrage of questions from tenant reps on the Board. His testimony highlighted the Board’s basic math error in considering gross income, including MCIs and Individual Apartment Improvement Increases, but ignoring capital expenses in computing profit margins. In questioning, he surprised the Board with proof of the increased and uncounted cost of compliance.  The City Council is passing a housing related bill into law an average of every two and one half weeks this year vs. every two and one half months in 2000, he noted.

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Storefronts Available, And More Available

There are 188 vacant storefronts on Broadway in Manhattan, with 55 of them north of 155th Street, according to a survey by the Borough President’s office released Monday.

President Trump is naming Lynne Patton, an event planner with no housing experience and questionable academic credentials, to run HUD Region 2, according to yesterday’s Daily News.

The New York Metro Area is on track to add about 100,000 apartments by 2030, but needs 278,000 according to an analysis released this week by the National Apartment Association. The New York apartment industry and residents add $3.5 billion a day to the economy, the report said.

Long Island needs more apartments too. The Long Island Association reported this week that the critical 20-34 year-old population increased by 36,000 from 2010 to 2015 after falling by almost150,000 in the prior 20 years.

Nassau County’s Rent Guidelines Board is having hearings June 20th and 26th, but apparently won’t decide final guidelines until September, playing havoc with required advance renewal offers.

What does even the threat of rent control do to multifamily property values? Offering prices for apartment buildings dropped 25% before a recent rent control referendum was defeated in Santa Rosa, California…if they could get an offer.

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