Landlords Win Big: RGB Approves 7.75% Increase For Two Year Leases

Ouch!!!! This hurts. But I betcha the 793088-snidely_whiplashlandlords are river-dancing down Fifth Ave. in glee:

Via NY Observer:

“Abandon hope, all ye who enter here. On Thursday night, the Rent Guidelines Board voted to jack up the rent approve rent increases of 4 percent for one-year leases and 7.75-percent for a two-year leases, as reported by The New York Times. The decision will mean increases of $40 a month, or $480 a year for a $1,000-a-month apartment, or $960 for a $2,000-a-month apartment, twice the amount of the 2012 increases, which were capped at 2 and 4 percent respectively.”


Don’t Try This at Home: Airbnb Ruled Illegal In NYC

Via NY Times:

A $2,400 Fine for an Airbnb Host

Nigel Warren faced steep fines for violations from renting his apartment on Airbnb.Todd Heisler/The New York Times Nigel Warren faced steep fines for violations from renting his apartment on Airbnb.

“Back in December, I wrote a column about Nigel Warren, who was facing the prospect of thousands of dollars in fines from New York City for renting his room in a two-bedroom apartment out on Airbnb. A city inspector believed he was breaking the law, but the city ended up dismissing the charges right before the column appeared.

From there, however, the tale took an odd turn. The city revived the charges and set a hearing date for late January. Mr. Warren, appearing on behalf of his landlord, showed up only to find, to his great surprise, that an Airbnb team was there too, including outside counsel it had retained. The company intended to intervene on his behalf, but it hadn’t let him know that it would appear at the hearing.

Because of some confusion at that hearing, the city scheduled a new one, which finally took place on May 9. There, both Mr. Warren and Airbnb argued that certain language in New York’s administrative code allowed lawful boarders, roomers and lodgers to stay in an apartment like Mr. Warren’s for less than 30 days.

An administrative law judge, Clive Morrick, disagreed with their interpretation in a decision he issued on Monday, noting that the Airbnb renters did not have access to all parts of the apartment, specifically the room of Mr. Warren’s roommate, who was still living there while Mr. Warren was away and renting out his room. Mr. Morrick also questioned whether complete strangers staying for a few nights could ever fall under the code language in question.

Airbnb cannot file an appeal, since it was only a “discretionary intervenor” in the case, somewhat akin to a party filing an amicus brief. Mr. Warren, who has told his landlord that he will cover the $2,400 in fines, says that he’s willing to consider appealing if it doesn’t cost him any more money in legal fees and if Airbnb is willing to help him refine and advance his arguments.

But the bigger question here is the same one I asked in my column in December and Airbnb would not answer at the time: Given that Airbnb is well aware that many of its listings in large cities are probably violating local laws, shouldn’t it warn its hosts, with some sort of aggressive pop-up or similar disclosure, when they first post a new listing that they are potentially putting themselves in legal jeopardy?

On Tuesday, Airbnb sent me a statement saying that it plans to start doing just that. Here’s what the warning will say:

“Congratulations! You’re almost done listing your new space and it’s looking pretty sharp! As you’re deciding whether to become an Airbnb host, it’s important for you to understand how the laws work in your city.

Some cities have laws that restrict your ability to host paying guests for short periods. These laws are often part of a city’s zoning or administrative codes. In many cities, you must register, get a permit, or obtain a license before you list your property or accept guests. Certain types of short-term bookings may be prohibited altogether. Local governments vary greatly in how they enforce these laws. Penalties may include fines or other enforcement. These rules can be confusing. Often, even city administrators find it tough to explain their local laws.

We are working with governments around the world to clarify these rules so that everyone has a clear understanding of what the laws are. In the meantime, please review your local laws before listing your space on Airbnb. By accepting our Terms of Service and activating a listing, you certify that you will follow your local laws and regulations.

Many of us at Airbnb are hosts ourselves and we’re passionate about making it as easy as possible to host around the world.

Onwards and Upwards!”

I also asked the company about the possibility of blocking listings from addresses of buildings where residents or the management company have told Airbnb that listings are not legal or welcome. The company had not yet answered this question by the time we published this post.

The company’s approach will probably influence many people in cities like San Francisco and New York, where it has a large number of listings and its hosts have clear legal exposure. The travel news site Skift estimated in January that half of Airbnb’s listings in New York City are illegal. The company did not comment on this estimate.

If you’re already a host in New York, keep in mind that the city still seems only to be conducting inspections at apartments where neighbors have complained about the comings and goings of all the random strangers. But landlords are on to this too, as Fast Company’s Chris Dannen noted last year after his landlord served him with a cease-and-desist order. Most leases prevent the sort of subletting that goes on via Airbnb every day.

Airbnb and other companies hope to clarify or change some of the laws that restrict these sorts of short-term rentals. Here’s what Airbnb said in a statement about that effort and a 2010 law in question:

“This decision makes it even more critical that New York law be clarified to make sure regular New Yorkers can occasionally rent out their own homes. There is universal agreement that occasional hosts like Nigel Warren were not the target of the 2010 law, but that agreement provides little comfort to the handful of people, like Nigel, who find themselves aimed at by overzealous enforcement officials. It is time to fix this law and protect hosts who occasionally rent out their own homes. 87 percent of Airbnb hosts in New York list just a home they live in — they are average New Yorkers trying to make ends meet, not illegal hotels that should be subject to the 2010 law.”–NYTimes


‘Developers, faced with stratospheric land prices, forced to leave renters high and dry’–The Real Deal

If you’re planning on “movin’ on up to the Eastside” (or any NYC hood),   to “finally get your piece of the pie” as The Jefferson’s theme song boasted in the 70’s, prepare to hand over a big slice of your net worth and buy instead of rent. Rental vacancies are at their lowest (and most expensive ) levels ever and if last year is any indicators, New York developers just aren’t developing rental properties anymore. Sad and ironic in a town where for the price of a few months rent, anyone could try out their big city dreams.

We know Mayor SnidelyMike’s solution: 300 sq. foot ingeniously designed $2,000 a month pre-fab. apts. Not only is depressing down-sizingthis lowering our collective standard of living,  but he’s only building enough “affordable” mini-pads for about 48 people out of a Naked City population of 8 million. You do the math.

The Real Deal reports:

“New York City developers made a madcap dash to secure property sites in 2012, and with prices continually inching upwards, had little option but to build luxury condos, thus leaving renters and those needing affordable housing out in the cold, the New York Times reported.”

“Property owners sold 158 development sites in Manhattan in 2012, an increase of 51 percent from the previous year, according to brokerage Massey Knakal. The total sales volume of those sites was $3.12 billion, representing a 128 percent increase from the previous year. Moreover, 69 sites worth $1.73 billion sold in the fourth quarter alone. Competition for these sites was cutthroat, with as many as 40 developers battling for the right to purchase a single site, Bob Knakal, Massey Knakal’s chairman, told the Times.

To mitigate the risk of buying at such high prices, brokers told the Times that developers were pushed to build high-end condos, or convert existing properties into them. “The fact is, the way the free market is working today, land is just too valuable, so developers can’t afford to do anything but build super luxury product,” Knakal said.

For example, Macklowe Properties is in the process of converting two Upper East Side prewar rental buildings, 150 East 72nd Street and 737 Park Avenue, into luxury condos. “There are very few remaining rental prewar buildings on Park Avenue,” Richard Wallgren, executive vice president for sales and marketing of Macklowe Properties, told the Times in reference to 737 Park Avenue. “So this opportunity to purchase one of those lone buildings was extremely competitive, and we are delighted to be successful in purchasing it.”

Some real estate insiders worry that this trend will lead to a lopsided housing market recovery. “I worry that if this is all we can develop, how deep is that market?” Jonathan Miller, president of appraisal firm Miller Samuel, told the Times. He added that the proposal to rezone Midtown East would be essential to alleviate the tightness in the property market.

Knakal said that the push to build high-end wouldn’t solve the problem of providing affordable housing to the large percentage of New Yorkers that need it. “There are so many millions of people that keep the city functioning,” he said. “If you earn $40,000 a year, where do you live?” [NYT] –Hiten Samtani ”

Mike ‘Antoinette’ Bloomberg Thinks Small: ‘My Micro NY’ Tiny Apartment Design Winner Is A 250-375 Sq. Ft. Pre-Fab

The idea of living in a studio apartment even  smaller than the current zoned minimum of 400 square feet is intrinsically depressing even to space-challenged, rent-weary New Yorkers. Maybe that’s  why only 33 folks entered Bloomberg’s design competition.

The winning unit, called “My Micro NY,” features 9-foot ceilings,  mini outdoor decks.and will  be built at the Brooklyn Navy Yard and then transported to Manhattan. Yes kiddies, it’s pre-fab pads for the rest of us who don’t have a million or so to buy a one bedroom.  I suspect that real estate developers and landlords are secretly river dancing at zoning changes related to all this  marie167 stock-photo-court-ball-in-costumes-of-marie-antoniette-counts-of-provence-and-count-of-artois-created-86151673that allow New York apartments to legally get even smaller and be built more cheaply  as pre-fab pod buildings. Mike Antoinette and his  zoning honcho partner Amanda Burden strike again.

The NY Times Reports:

“The apartment of New York City’s future, as the city imagines it, has all the amenities of modern life: wheelchair-accessible bathroom, a full kitchen, space for entertaining and access to a gym, communal lounge, front and back porches and a rooftop garden — all in 250 to 370 square feet.

The city on Tuesday unveiled the winner of a competition to design and build an apartment tower on city-owned land composed entirely of micro-units, 55 homes the size of hotel rooms that Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg hopes will be the first in a wave of tiny apartments aimed at addressing the city’s shortage of studio and one-bedroom apartments.

Small as it might be, the winning design was chosen for the way that it maximized light, airiness and storage space through the use of 9-foot-high ceilings, large windows, lofts8404837889_39f534fab4_z and Juliet balconies.

“We have a shortfall now of 800,000, and it’s only going to get worse,” Mr. Bloomberg said during the news conference announcing the winning team, a partnership between Monadnock Development, Brooklyn-based ARCHITECTS and a nonprofit that serves creative arts professionals, the Actors Fund Housing Development Corporation. “This is going to be a big problem for cities with young people.”

In another futuristic twist, the 10-story tower at 335 East 27th Street in the Kips Bay neighborhood will rise thanks to modular construction, becoming the city’s first apartment building to do so: units will be prefabricated, then stacked on top of one another like Legos.” – NY Times

8405929666_396a27c748_z 8405926152_49d4256fed_z 8405925508_970c9dabb8_zThe project will also be the first modular development in Manhattan, following on the Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn, which suggests that prefabricated construction may indeed take hold as a new model for housing development in the city, at least on the low end. Some 40 percent of the units will be set aside for low- and middle-income tenants, with prices ranging from $940 per month to $1,800 per month.

“We’ve chosen Manhattan because more than three-quarters of its homes are one or two person households,” Mayor Bloomberg said. “We already have the population seeking housing for a small number of people, we just don’t have the apartments to house them.”–NY Observer

Celeb Eviction Chronicles: Bianca Jagger Loses Park Avenue Rental; Must Pay $708,000 In Back Rent, Legal Fees And Fines

It was a great day in landlord city when this anti-tenant verdict came down in Sept. 2012 after years of litigation and appeals.snedley-1  I understand Mick Jagger’s  ex losing her lease80150068338178724_32So9fdy_c because her primary residence is in London.  What I don’t get , is the woulda/coulda/shoulda loot awarded to the landlord for the extra fair market money he missed out on during the multi-year legal dispute : “As part of the fine, the judge ruled that Ms. Jagger owes $246,468 for the “fair market use and occupancy” over the years she was in dispute with the landlords. They said the apartment would have gone on the open market for $8,800 a month.”( It would be a lot more now!)
Oh, and that “poor upkeep” business the WSJ writes about so dismissively, think toxic mold and the 20 million PI suit Jagger filed in 2005 that started it all.   As you would expect from Murdoch men, the WSJ hates our NYC rent control laws.

Celeb Eviction Chronicles  : Bianca Jagger Lose Park Avenue Rental; Must Pay $708,000 In Back Rent, Legal Fees And Fines

From an earlier  Wall Street Journal, 2010….”. Jetsetter and social activist Bianca Jagger has lost her legal bid to keep her knock-down-price rental at 530 Park Avenue.

530 Park Avenue Where Bianca Jaggar Lost Her Fight to Keep Her Stabilized NY Apartment in 2010

530 Park Avenue Where Bianca Jaggar Lost Her Fight to Keep Her Stabilized NY Apartment in 2010. There are 116 apartments in the building, 31 of which are rentals.

A New York state judge last week ordered Mick’s ex to pay $708,600 in back rent and other fines to her landlords. Ms. Jagger spent nearly 20 years in the two bedroom apartment—rent-stabilized at $4,600 a month. But then she complained about poor upkeep, The landlords in turn noted that Ms. Jagger, in the U.S. on a tourist visa, shouldn’t pay the lower rent since New York isn’t her “primary residence,” one of the criteria under rent control laws.

A state appeals court sided with them in 2008 and last week another court upheld the decision and said she could be evicted. As part of the fine, the judge ruled that 116249234101256139_lI8B8iQq_cMs. Jagger owes $246,468 for the “fair market use and occupancy” over the years she was in dispute with the landlords. They said the apartment would have gone on the open market for $8,800 a month.”–WSJ 2010

Model Apt. at 530 Park.1,645 sq. ft. 2 bedroom/ 2 bath condo for sale at $5,500,000

Model Apt. at 530 Park.
1,645 sq. ft. 2 bedroom/ 2 bath condo for sale at $5,500,000

Landlords gain an inch…literally, as Top Court “modernizes” Feudal Common Law “one inch rule”

The decision carves out an exception to the “one inch” rule, a vestige of feudal common law that allows for a full rent abatement if a landlord takes even one inch of a leased property. Ciparick said the court’s ruling was in line with more modern interpretations of real estate law.

Looks like this issue hails from back in the day when real estate landowners were actually “lords” and everyone else was a  “vassal” (serf?). Congratulations on your win after all these centuries, guys.

This from Thompson Reuters, Feb 21, 2012:

“ALBANY, N.Y., Feb 21 (Reuters) – Finding an exception to a longstanding real estate rule, New York’s top court has held that a minimal encroachment by a landlord upon a tenant’s space does not justify a rent abatement.

In a 6-1 decision released Tuesday, the Court of Appeals ruled that Eastside Exhibition Corp, which operates City Cinema on East 86th Street, was not entitled to a rent abatement after its landlord made renovations that took up 12 square feet of the two-story, 19,000-square foot movie theater.

“We recognize that there can be an intrusion so minimal that it does not prescribe such a harsh remedy (as rent abatement),” Judge Carmen Ciparick wrote for the court.

The decision carves out an exception to the “one inch” rule, a vestige of feudal common law that allows for a full rent abatement if a landlord takes even one inch of a leased property. Ciparick said the court’s ruling was in line with more modern interpretations of real estate law.

“Given…modern realities that a commercial lessee is free to negotiate appropriate lease terms, we see no need to apply a rule derived from feudal concepts,” she wrote…”