Foiled Again: Sandy Slices Facade From NY Apt Building Revealing Cheap Hotel

“Getting a room” collapse1n-2-web collapse1n-3-webin New York can be expensive for tourists but lucrative for landlords who snidely-whiplash-by-nightrpstar-ccillegally  rent furnished digs by the night instead of monthly as prescribed by NYC’s tough rent laws. After Sandy ripped the facade from the front of a small downtown apartment building, the eerie dollhouse perspective of these then- viral photos revealed strangely similar decor in all the units and very small rooms even by New York standards. Now we know why. The joint

The Meat Packing District 'Hotel' Before Sandy

The Meat Packing District ‘Hotel’ Before Sandy

was an illegal hotel for European tourists and the landlord owed over $30,000 in 2011/2012  fines for

Building After Damage

Building After Damage

doing work without permits.

After the collapse, the city cited the property owner, 92 8th Avenue Realty, LLC, for a “failure to maintain building walls”.

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Vacate Order From The City

The Conrad Hilton wannabe collapse1n-7-copylandlord used Vrotels.com to market his cut-rate accommodations. Hopefully at their other locales “they’ll leave the walls on for ya”…

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A ‘Lousiest Landlord’ Crime Classic: The Double Life Of A Ludlow Street Landlord: New York Magazine, 1999

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Snidley Whiplash, Jay Ward Cartoon

Mark Glass was sentenced to 7 years in the slammer after being busted by NYPD’s finest for plotting to evict two tenants the old fashioned way–by murdering them. Luckily, he was inept and there were no victims of the landlord’s strange and oddly comical criminal plots (think Inspector Clouseau with buildings). The sting orchestrated by undercover detectives was masterful and worthy of TV. Glass admitted his guilt and took a plea. He kept his 20 buildings and The Lower East Side is now Hipster Heaven and Ludlow is both the name of a street and J.Crew’s newest men’s emporium in Tribeca and Boston. –Landordrocknyc

 

The Double Life of a Ludlow Street Landlord

“Crawford came back from staying at a girlfriend’s to find that his apartment had been burglarized, his mattress thrown on the street — and the locks changed. “What burglar takes the time to change the locks on the way out of an apartment?” she says. “It was so obviously the landlord.” NY Magazine, 1999

“…They came for Mark Glass at 9 a.m. on Erev Rosh Hashanah, the eve of one of the holiest days of the Jewish year. It was October 1, a warm, windy autumn day — rent day — and a stream of tenants was already buzzing at the door of Glass’s tiny storefront real-estate office at 159 Ludlow on the Lower East Side. Except for the early holiday closing — Glass, a devout Orthodox Jew, had to get home before sundown — it was no different from any other first-of-the-month.

Detectives Kennedy and Bush from the NYPD Robbery Squad seemed miffed that Glass wasn’t at work yet. His office manager, Jana Eitel, a plump, streetwise Byelorussian émigré who speaks six languages, each with the same accent, tried to joke with them as she dialed her boss on his cell phone — “Are you both ex-presidents?” — but the cops weren’t amused, and Glass did not pick up. Instead, they had a question for her: “Did you know a tenant named Brigitte Marx?”

“Of course,” she said. Ever since the paper store Eitel had worked for down the block closed five years ago, she’d managed all fifteen of Uses Realty’s properties, mostly clustered on Ludlow and Clinton Streets. She knew all the tenants — which ones were troublemakers, which ones always paid their rent on time. Word had filtered through Ludlow Street that Marx had been killed, but there were no details. “Terrible thing,” she sighed, cracking open her first pack of Virginia Slims for the day. “Brigitte was a good girl. Do you know what happened?” The cops were fuzzy. All they seemed to know was that Marx had been beaten and murdered somewhere uptown. They needed to get into the apartment. Could she have Mr. Glass call them when he got in?snidely whiplash

A little after eleven, Mark Glass, an athletic 44-year-old with wire-frame glasses and a trim, graying beard, pulled up to the office in his battered cobalt-blue ’72 Skylark, a $300 jalopy that was his pride and joy. His holiday davening at the Manhattan Beach Jewish Center had taken him a little longer than expected, and he was running late. Eitel told him the cops wanted him over at 42 Clinton. Glass slapped a Yankees cap over his yarmulke and ran out the door.

The cops were already outside when Glass arrived with his maintenance man. Glass led them up the crumbling stairs to the third floor, through a dimly lit corridor decorated with an old Jean-Luc Godard poster, to apartment 13. The cops had clearly already been there; yellow crime-scene tape zigzagged across the door. Glass fumbled for the keys and opened the apartment. Marx had meticulously renovated the tenement, skim-coating the walls and refinishing the floors. “Do you mind if I use the phone?” asked one of the cops. “It’s not mine,” said Glass, “but I don’t see why not.” The cop made his call and then walked over to the landlord. “Mr. Glass, I’m sorry, but I have some bad news,” he said. “You’re gonna have to come with us for some questioning in connection with the death of Brigitte Marx.” And then the cop unhitched his handcuffs.

In fact, Brigitte Marx was not dead. At that moment, she was in a luxury hotel uptown, courtesy of the NYPD. Just days before Glass’s arrest, the cops had recorded him on audiotape allegedly paying a hit man the final installment on a contract to kill her and her next-door neighbor. According to the Manhattan district attorney, Glass had first hired the hit man to burn Marx, a 37-year-old German freelance graphic designer, and her next-door neighbor, Bernell Crawford, an unemployed black waiter in his mid-thirties, out of their apartments; when that failed, he had taken out a contract to execute them with a lethal overdose of heroin. The hit man was part of an elaborate NYPD sting — but Glass didn’t know that yet…” NY Magazine, 1999

http://nymag.com/nymetro/news/crimelaw/features/2384/

Dudley Do Right, The Movie (1999), with a glam-less Sarah Jessica Parker as the damsel in distress: (VIDEO):

“Are you now or have you ever been in Housing Court?” Key step to end “Tenant Blacklists” announced by Senator Kruger

Individuals can end up blacklisted without having done anything wrong. … In addition, with New York City’s tight rental market and soaring property values, unscrupulous landlords routinely bring Housing Court proceedings to harass rent-regulated tenants and drive them from their homes. With the practice of blacklisting, a landlord could merely threaten to name a tenant as a defendant in housing court, and win or lose, that tenant would be faced with a black mark that could make it difficult or even impossible to secure housing in the future.”

It’s good news, sort of. Housing Court will no longer sell tenant names to landlord screening agencies but docket numbers are still  being sold and  earning dough for the scary sausage factory that is our city’s landlord/tenant resolution court. This whole “tenant blacklisting” thing is a little too reminiscent of the paranoid, predatory,  post WWII “Commie Hunting”  McCarthy Era and the late 1940’s/early 1950’s—but without the good clothes.

Dior Gown

The Hollywood 10, Hollywood Blacklist, Ronald Reagan, Gary Cooper 

Gary Cooper

VIDEO:

Here is Senator Kruger’s  April 26, 2012 Press Release:

Victory for Tenants: Sen. Krueger Announces Courts to End Electronic Sale of Housing Court Data Used in “Tenant Blacklists”

New York State Senator Liz Krueger (D-Manhattan) today announced that the New York State Office of Court Administration will take a key step to end the practice known as “tenant blacklisting.” In a letter, Chief Administrative Judge A. Gail Prudenti confirmed to Sen. Krueger

New York State Senator Liz Kruger

that the names of individuals named as parties in housing court actions will no longer be sold in electronic form by the New York State Unified Court System as of June 1, 2012. Information regarding individual cases will continue to be available through the Unified Civil Courts’ eCourts website and in the Housing Court clerks’ offices.

The previous unrestricted sale of this data in electronic form to tenant screening companies created what are known as tenant blacklists – databases used by landlords and real estate management agents to discriminate against potential tenants. The availability of these blacklists, maintained by hundreds  of tenant screening companies across the country, has meant that that any landlord could easily discriminate against potential tenants, purely on the basis of their having been named in previous New York City Housing Court proceedings. Sen. Krueger and a coalition of New York City elected officials and tenants’ advocates brought the issue to Judge Prudenti’s attention earlier this year.

Individuals can end up blacklisted without having done anything wrong. Thousands of tenants are named as parties in Housing Court cases each year because their landlords face foreclosure, as the result a government agency failing to pay a rent subsidy on time, or as the result of an error. Even when these cases are quickly dismissed, the tenants’ information remains in the system and is sold to tenant screening companies, causing long-term damage. In addition, with New York City’s tight rental market and soaring property values, unscrupulous landlords routinely bring Housing Court proceedings to harass rent-regulated tenants and drive them from their homes. With the practice of blacklisting, a landlord could merely threaten to name a tenant as a defendant in housing court, and win or lose, that tenant would be faced with a black mark that could make it difficult or even impossible to secure housing in the future.

In practice, tenant blacklisting has had a chilling effect on tenants’ ability to exercise their legal rights. Tenants legally entitled to withhold their rent to enforce their right to safe and habitable housing have had to fear permanent consequences merely from being named in an eviction proceeding, even if their landlord is unsuccessful in the court action itself.

Comments from Advocates and Elected Officials:

“The use of housing court data to promulgate blacklists is just another way massive real estate concerns have twisted the system to pressure tenants and benefit themselves. When the fear of being ‘blacklisted’ causes many tenants to avoid the court and relinquish their legal rights, access to justice is fundamentally  undermined,” said Sen. Krueger. “I applaud Judge Prudenti’s action to protect both New York’s tenants and the integrity of the court system.”

“We are very pleased that the Office of Court Administration has agreed to stop selling the names of litigants sued in Housing Court to anyone, including tenant screening companies,” said Louise Seeley, Executive Director of Housing Court Answers. “This data is used, often unfairly, to deny people housing. This step allows New Yorkers access to the Housing Courts without fear of future discrimination.”

“Tenant ‘blacklisting’ has a chilling effect on the ability of renters to access the courts,” said State Senator Thomas K. Duane (D, WFP-Manhattan). “As an original member of the Tenant Screening Working Group, I am pleased that Judge Gail Prudenti is taking action to help protect due process and tenants’ rights.”

“Securing affordable housing is one of the greatest challenges for working families in New York City and in the communities I represent in the Bronx. The sale of housing court information to tenant screening companies has made it all too easy for New Yorkers to be denied affordable housing,” said State Senator Gustavo Rivera (D-Bronx). “I want to commend the Office of Court Administration and Judge Gail Prudenti for taking steps to ensure that the thousands of New Yorkers who exercise their right to due process in housing court will not be adversely affected. It is vital that we continue to ensure that there are less barriers for individuals and families looking for safe and affordable housing in New York City.”

“Tenant blacklists are one of the most powerful tools working against tenants today,” said New York City Councilmember Daniel Garodnick (D-Manhattan), the author of a 2010 city law requiring disclosure where blacklisting firms are being used. “Tenants who assert their rights in court should feel secure that Courts are not going to make it easier for landlords to hold it against them the next time they try to rent an apartment.”

“Landlords have routinely blacklisted tenants based on nothing more than the fact that they may have appeared in Housing Court. Our courts, as public institutions, should not facilitate this unjust practice,” said Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh (D-Manhattan), who serves on the Assembly Housing Committee and had joined Senator Krueger, other officials, and tenant advocates in pushing for changes in the Court’s policy. “We are grateful that Judge Prudenti has carefully weighed the competing interests and is taking an important step toward greater fairness for tenants who avail themselves of their right to press their case in Housing Court, as well as those who may find themselves in court against their will.”

“I send my sincere thanks to Judge Prudenti on behalf of all tenants in New York who are afraid to assert their legal rights in the Housing Court system for fear of future retribution. Judge Prudenti’s decision is truly a vital change that will have a long-lasting, immensely positive impact on the lives of thousands of individuals across our city,” said Assemblymember Daniel O’Donnell (D-Manhattan). “Given the advent of the internet, many legal policies that have previously worked smoothly and competently are now failing the very individuals they are designed to protect. With this decision, the Housing Court system acknowledged these issues and changed its practices for the better. I hope other areas of our legal system will follow this example and adapt to today’s changed legal environment for the benefit of all our citizens.”

“At a time when access to affordable housing is at an all-time low in the City, we are grateful that the Office of Court Administration took this important step toward protecting tenants against discrimination in the rental market,” said April Newbauer, Attorney-in-Charge of the Legal Aid Society’s Queens Neighborhood Office.  “We also thank Senator Krueger for her leadership on this issue.”

“This is a major step forward, both for tenants seeking justice from Housing Court and for New Yorkers looking to find apartments to rent in a tight real estate market,” said David Robinson of the Community Service Society of New York. “Many tenants find themselves in Housing Court through no fault of their own, often because their landlords face foreclosure proceedings or a City agency has failed to pay a shelter allowance or a rent subsidy. These tenants will no longer forfeit the opportunity to find new housing in the future.”

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Supremes will not rule on Constitutionality of NYC Rent Stabilization Law

NYC landlords will not be  metaphorically Riverdancing down Fifth Avenue in celebration  of the first serious legal challenge to rent regulations in decades because the Supreme Court  announced on April 23rd that it will not be hearing the case.

U.S. Supreme Court At Night

“We still believe that the Constitution does not allow the government to force us to take strangers into our home at our expense for life. Even our grandchildren have been barred from living with us. That is not our America.”– James Harmon, Upper West Side landlord and former prosecutor,  who filed the case

The Wall Street Journal,  supportive of the case, wrote that  “one of Harmon’s  tenants owns a near shore home in Southhampton and spends her weekends gardening and playing tennis.”  Horrors! She gardens and plays tennis. (Her home is worth $330,00, not millions).

Note to Mr. Harmon and his fans: If you’re going to play the Constitutional /Founding Fathers card, remember that Thomas Jefferson also wrote these words which I suspect were intended to include NYC regulated tenants as well as landlords: “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness”. –Opinion, Landlordrocknyc

From theNew York Law Journal April 24, 2012

The case, Harmon v. Kimmel, 11-496, was filed against the city in 2008 by James Harmon and his wife, Jeanne. The couple owns an Upper West Side brownstone with six apartments, of which three are rent stabilized. The Harmons argued that the 1969 rent-stabilization law, intended to respond to a housing shortage, was an unconstitutional taking of their property.

Southern District Judge Barbara Jones (See Profile) dismissed the case in February 2010, and Judges Amalya Kearse (See Profile), Robert Sack (See Profile) and Robert Katzmann (See Profile) of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed the dismissal in March 2011. The Supreme Court’s refusal to hear an appeal marks the end of the case.

“We are pleased that the Supreme Court will allow the existing court rulings dismissing this case to stand,” Alan Krams, senior counsel in the Appeals Division of the Corporation Counsel’s office, said in a press release. “Rent regulation in New York City has a long history, and the Court properly left it to elected state and city officials to decide its future.”

James Harmon said in an e-mail that the Harmon family was disappointed in the court’s denial of cert. “We still believe that the Constitution does not allow the government to force us to take strangers into our home at our expense for life. Even our grandchildren have been barred from living with us. That is not our America.”

“We are deeply disappointed that the United States Supreme Court did not accept what we believe to be relevant and legitimate property rights concerns of all New York City rent-regulated property owners, who have endured 70 years of rent regulation in one form or another,” Joseph Strasburg, president of the Rent Stabilization Association, which filed an amicus brief on the Harmons’ side, said in a press release.

Curses! Foiled Again: NY State Court of Appeals rules in favor of Brooklyn loft tenant who has not paid rent in nine years

“Brooklyn artist Margaret Maugenest scored one for the renters on Thursday. New York’s highest court ruled in her favor that the city’s Loft Law prohibits her landlord from evicting her, despite nine years’ nonpayment of rent, because it failed to comply with residential codes and didn’t receive an extension to satisfy the regulations. “In the absence of compliance, the law’s command is quite clear,” Judge Robert S. Smith wrote in the decision. Two lower courts had ruled in favor of the landlord. Maugenest ought to print out the court’s order and frame it — because that’s art, baby.”–NY Magazine

“The ruling by the State Court of Appeals could affect tenants in some buildings covered by the 1982 Loft Law, which has allowed hundreds of former manufacturing or commercial buildings to be rented to tenants as long as the landlords make necessary changes, namely in fire protection and other safety measures, to bring them up to residential building codes.”–NYTimes

“Though Ms. Maugenest has not paid rent for nine years, she has not adopted the habits of someone who lives rent-free either, her lawyer said. Instead, she has put aside her rent money every month and saved it, just in case a court demanded that she pay. She may have just found herself with an extra $60,000.–NYTimes

Her rent is $600 a month. Guess some NYC landlords try to justify unsafe, hideous conditions because the rent “is so damn cheap”. Sorry guys. You lose.NY’s top court says loft tenant can’t be evicted [WSJ]

No Eviction After Renter Didn’t Pay for 9 Years [NYT]

The classic “Pay the Rent” scenario with a little “landlord” who is much cuter than yours.

Dudley Do-right, Snidley Whiplash In ” What would Dudley do in the mortgage crisis?” , 2008 Cartoon, Jay Ward Productions