It is no surprise that the New York rental market is dog-eat-dog, but you do not often hear of the elderly forced out of their rent stabilized apartment after 44 years of tenancy. After a six year landlord-tenant dispute over a lease breach, the woman lost her rent-stabilized West Village apartment.
In January of 2006, the woman was caught retiling her bathroom without the landlord's permission, which was a violation of her lease on a rent stabilized apartment. She was given a 10-day "Notice to Cure," but allegedly did not rectify the situation to the standards of her landlord's liking. After six years of appealing the eviction, she lost the home she has known for 44 years.
There is speculation that the landlord used the minor lease breach to simply remove a tenant who was paying an under-market value rent. The tenant was paying less than $1,000 per month on an apartment that has since been divided into a two bedroom apartment and rented for $3,800 per month. The elderly woman is moving between the homes of her family and friends and trying to figure out her next steps. The 74-year-old is a longtime resident of New York City and a mainstay in the New York jazz scene.
While it is not uncommon for landlords to divide up rent stabilized apartments into market-rate units, the age and circumstances of the situation are unusual in this case. Ultimately, the courts sided with the landlord. The Rent Stabilization Law of 1969 was enacted at a time when rents were rising sharply in post-war buildings. The law was intended to protect the working class, setting a maximum rate for rent increases and giving tenants the right to renew their leases.
Rent stabilization laws apply to units of six or greater in buildings constructed before 1974. There are about 1 million rent stabilized apartments in New York City as opposed to rent-controlled apartments. Rent-controlled means that the amount a landlord can charge a tenant is based on a maximum base rent, which ensures that building maintenance and improvements are covered.
Source: Gothamist, "74-Year-Old Couch Surfing After Eviction From Rent-Stabilized Apartment," Carrie Dennis, July 30, 2012.