Mayor Bloomberg Says He's Done a Good Job of Fighting Illegal Hotels

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Mayor's Office via flickr
Shot of an illegal hotel at 38 West 88th Street in Manhattan.
In today's Mike-Bloomberg-praises-himself news, we've got for you a story about illegal hotels, fire hazards, and, one of the mayor's favorite things -- numbers.

Late yesterday afternoon, the mayor's office released results of the city's ongoing efforts to curb illegal hotels, which are converted residential buildings that are often plagued by dangerous conditions and are generally disliked by elected officials and New Yorkers who live near them (we imagine some tourists may like them?).

According to the mayor, the city's doing a good job!

These "hotels" are buildings that are designated for permanent occupancy, but are converted, often unsafely, into hostels and hotels by landlords who hope to attract tourists or others looking for a temporary place to stay.

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Courts Will Stop Selling Information that Landlords Use in 'Tenant Blacklists'

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via nysenate.gov
State Senator Liz Krueger
Some good news today for those of you who pick fights with your landlords, or who are harassed by them for no good reason: New York courts are going to stop selling your names to companies that make it harder for you to secure your next apartment.

This policy change in the New York State Unified Court System is going after a phenomenon called "tenant blacklisting," where landlords basically reject potential tenants whose names are on a list, which says they have been parties in housing court actions. These lists don't say what they've done, or what the situation was, or if the tenant brought the landlord to court, or visa-versa. It just says that the tenant was involved in housing court at some point, and because there's such a high demand for housing in the city, that's often reason enough for landlords to immediately reject an applicant. In some cases, landlords may even mistake a potential tenant for someone on the list with the same first and last name.

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De Blasio Report: Uptown Has the Worst Landlords

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According to NYC Public Advocate Bill de Blasio's Worst Landlords Watch List, Manhattan's worst-run buildings are mostly in Harlem, Washington Heights, and Inwood. Forty five of the 56 Manhattan buildings on the list are in those areas. Four of the lowest performing five are in Harlem and one is in Washington Heights. Each of those has over 240 violations. The top five worst landlords are:

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Faye Dunaway Is Being Sued by Her New York Landlord Over Her Rent-Stabilized Apartment

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Shockingly, Faye Dunaway is facing eviction in Manhattan housing court. More shockingly, Faye Dunaway pays $1048.72 a month for her rent-stabilized 1-bedroom walkup on East 78th. Slightly less shockingly, Dunaway may not actually inhabit the apartment, but instead lives in California, per a lawsuit filed by her landlord yesterday. Her son Liam Dunaway O'Neill is a subtenant in the apartment, and has acknowledged on Twitter that he also lives in California. But according to rent-stabilization rules, Dunaway would need to inhabit 78th Street as a primary residence -- though the New York Times does point out that she's not living particularly glamorously in either abode, despite once inhabiting a far more fancy apartment at the Eldorado.

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Are Mars Bar Building Tenants Really Getting $10 Luxury Apartments?

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Anyone who's ever glanced at New York City real estate was aghast at recent reports from Crain's and the New York Post that say tenants of the apartments above the soon-to-be-demolished Mars Bar will receive $10 residences in the new luxury space to be built in its stead. But after talking to residents who were unaware of that super cheap figure, we decided to investigate further to see if they really were getting $10 digs.

John Vaccaro, 81, told us last Tuesday that he didn't know about the $10 pricetag, but did know that he would be receiving an apartment in the new building. He said he wasn't sure how much he would be paying for the new apartment at 11 Second Avenue. (The new building will occupy 9 and 11-17 Second Avenue.) In fact, all of the building residents we spoke with were reticent to talk about specifics, mostly due to the fact that they didn't yet know them.

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Dan Garodnick Q&A: The Senate Bill That Would Bail Out Landlords and Gut Court Ruling on Stuy Town Rents

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David Shankbone
In 2009, a landmark state appeals court ruling found that the owners of Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village had illegally deregulated 4,400 apartments while enjoying special tax breaks from the city. Its impact wasn't quite clear; no one was sure what the legal rents of those apartments should be or how much the wronged tenants should receive in rebates.

Now, a bill is making its way through the state Senate that, as the Times succinctly puts it, "would allow landlords to buy their way out of the problem."

Tenant advocates and Dan Garodnick, the councilman who represents Stuy Town, hotly oppose the bill. Garodnick — who was also born and raised and still lives there — gives Runnin' Scared his take.

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Bronx Buildings — Symbols of Market Crash — Sold, May Actually Be Repaired

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More than a thousand Bronx tenants in 10 of the city's most rundown apartment buildings got some hopeful news yesterday in the form of a new landlord who looks likely to make desperately needed repairs. In an unusual move, the city helped broker the deal.

This is at last a favorable development in the gloomy history of these buildings, which had been purchased by high-profile Los Angeles-based company Milbank (one of the Voice's 10 Worst Landlords last year) at the height of the real estate boom. When the market crashed, the buildings fell into foreclosure and further disrepair.

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Sen. Schumer, Christine Quinn Push Feds To Pressure Bank That Owns Shoddy Housing

Categories: Landlords

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A consequence of our sucky economy: The city estimates that around 125,000 housing units will go into foreclosure over the next two years.

In many cases, owners (including banks) are trying to unload these buildings, and while they wait, living conditions deteriorate drastically for tenants, with landlords racking up housing code violations for lack of heat and hot water, for toxic mold outbreaks, leaky roofs, and rodent infestations.

Conditions have gotten so bad, in some cases, that city officials have taken a lot of flak from advocates (and from journalists), and these buildings have become PR problems for the city. And so, over the past year, officials have been playing a bigger role, by being a middleman between tenants, banks, older landlords and prospective ones.

Today, city and state officials, and Senator Chuck Schumer, took things a step further by asking the federal government to force a big bank that owns many foreclosed and distressed properties to come clean about their finances and sell the properties to a responsible buyer.

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"Who's My Landlord?" App Loses, But Still Useful!

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Mayor Mike Bloomberg announced the winners of the second-annual NYC BigApps 2.0 Competition on Thursday night. This cool city-run competition gives out cash prizes to software developers who use city data sets to build apps that make it easier for people to navigate the city.

Unfortunately, the app inspired by a Voice story about missing landlords didn't seem to curry too much favor among the panel of tech-entrepreneur judges (The app helps you useful find info about your landlord that currently is only available in a bunch of different places).

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New York City Launches New Bedbug Website, Rules

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The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene have rolled out a new website to educate locals about bed bugs as the warm months approach and everyone starts to get itchy again. The slick site offers an illustrated Q&A with a streaming voiceover to address issues like "How can I tell if I have bedbugs?" and "Are bedbugs harmful to my health?" (No, but: "Bites can be very itchy and irritating.") The guide comes along with new rules today from the City Council and Mayor Bloomberg, which state that landlords are required to address bedbugs not only in infested units, but in the apartments next to, above, and below. All tenants must be notified about the presence of the little monitors and a plan of action for ridding the filth must be distributed to tenants. Together, with some Xs and Os -- and teamwork -- we can beat this.

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