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Thursday, June 26, 2014

How Some New York City Landlords Are Cheating Their Low-Income Tenants


There is a huge shortage of low-income housing in the U.S. with available properties in desperate need. But it doesn't excuse landlords from trying to pull a fast one on current tenants, like trying to buy them out so they can upgrade and rent the apartments at higher rates up to double what they are getting from current tenants.

What some landlords are doing

In Brooklyn, New York, for example, one tenant reports that she has been in her apartment for 30 years. But her landlord has been trying to get her to move. Why? He wants to move her to another apartment so he can renovate, raise the rent and make more money. What happened next is unbelievable. When this tenant agreed to move temporarily while repairs were being done, she couldn't get back into her apartment because the landlord had changed the locks.

Shame on them

The landlord made the excuse that the repairs were not finished. But what this landlord and others are doing is just plain unethical. They are trying to force out tenants who live in low-income units where the rent is below market value. Although they may move them into another apartment, it may not be in a desirable area.

Buyouts are not illegal, but a landlord cannot force a tenant who is entitled to stay. This is a situation that every tenant needs to be aware of. Review carefully any landlord offers of a cash buyout until you have all the facts, including where they want to move you. Never agree to anything you are not sure of or feel pressured to make decisions that you are not comfortable with. Never tolerate harassment. If necessary, you can seek free legal advice through a local legal aid society.
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