Posts Tagged ‘Rent Rite Directory’

Tenants Living Amid Rubble in Rent-Regulated Apartment War

Written by Landlord Property Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

The Fight for 98 Linden

After 23 years of living in their rent-stabilized apartment, Noelia Calero and her family are fighting to stay. The landlord, they say, is using intimidating tactics to push them out.

The letter from the landlord said he needed access to the apartments for a couple of weeks to make repairs.

The worker who showed up the next morning was armed with a sledgehammer and an electric saw, the tenants said, and took just hours to destroy the kitchens and the bathrooms. When the worker was done, the tenants in 1L could see the building’s basement through the remnants of their kitchen floor.

Eight months later, the kitchens and bathrooms in Apartments 1L and 1R, two rent-stabilized units on the ground floor of a six-unit building in Bushwick, Brooklyn, are still a gutted mess of exposed beams and debris. And the tenants and the landlord are locked in a standoff that underscores the anxiety coursing through changing neighborhoods, where many landlords are trying to capitalize on New York City’s robust real estate market while many lower-income tenants wonder how long they will be able to hold on to their homes.

“Our only sin is to have lived here for a long time,” said Carlos Calero, 52, a supervisor at a recycling company who pays $706 a month for the two-bedroom apartment he shares with his wife, two children and two young grandchildren.

Noelia Calero, right, and her family live in one of the apartments whose kitchens and bathrooms were destroyed. CreditDave Sanders for The New York Times

Landlord-tenant disputes are a fact of life in a city where rental units are 68 percent of the housing market, though what has unfolded in that building in Bushwick, at 98 Linden Street, is not the norm, city housing officials say. But for many tenants and many landlords, the stakes are high, and who wins and who loses in such disputes has acquired new urgency amid rising housing prices that are putting pockets of the city out of reach of families like Mr. Calero’s.

Mayor Bill de Blasio has promised to expand the number of homes affordable to low- and moderate-income New Yorkers to ease the housing crunch. But tenant advocates say that, in order to make a dent, the mayor must also focus on the loss of affordable apartments.

In gentrifying neighborhoods that can sustain double or triple the stabilized rent, legal aid lawyers and law enforcement officials say, many tenants face illegal and often successful pressures to move out, from buyout offers to demands that they offer proof of citizenship.

Apartments can legally be removed from rent regulation under certain conditions, including when a building’s government subsidies expire or there is a conversion to condominium or cooperative. But by far the most common way an apartment becomes market rate, according to data from the Rent Guidelines Board, is when it becomes vacant and the landlord is allowed vacancy- and improvement-related increases that bump the rent to or over the deregulation threshold of $2,500 a month.

A tightening of state rent laws in 2011 made it more difficult to deregulate an apartment, but there was still a net loss of more than 2,500 rent-stabilized apartments in 2012, the latest year for which statistics have been released by the state. That year saw at least 6,960 apartments added to the stabilized stock, mostly by property owners encouraged by tax incentives. But 9,499 apartments left the system during the same period, 71 percent because of vacancies.

Tenant advocates have the ear of Mayor de Blasio, who as public advocate ran a “worst landlord” watch list. Administration officials said that Mr. de Blasio intended for the city to “aggressively” intervene when large stabilized apartment complexes threaten removal from regulation and that he saw the need to beef up enforcement of housing and building code violations. The mayor has also promised to set up a fund to help tenants, most of whom go to housing court without lawyers, fight landlord wrongdoing.

Ms. Calero and her family have lived for months in their Brooklyn apartment with debris instead of a kitchen and bathroom. CreditDave Sanders for The New York Times

One of the families in the Bushwick apartments whose bathrooms and kitchens were destroyed, whose case is being handled by Legal Services NYC and Bushwick Housing and Legal Assistance, pays $675 a month in rent and says they could not afford anything over $1,000. That family, in apartment 1R, consists of a couple, Juan Calero and Gloria Corea, 67, their daughter Noelia Calero, 31, and her husband, Rolando Cajina, 44, the only one currently holding a job, as a road maintenance worker.

“If we had an alternative,” Mr. Cajina said, “we would have left already.”

Mr. Calero and Ms. Corea, immigrants from Nicaragua, moved into their two-bedroom apartment in the early 1990s, when the neighborhood was plagued by poverty and drugs and was far from the enclave of artists, students and now young professionals that makes recurrent appearances in shows like HBO’s “Girls.” Through that transformation, the number of rental units in Bushwick that are rent-regulated had fallen to 32 percent in 2011 from 43 percent in 2002, according to data from the Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy at New York University.

The families in 1L and 1R, who are related, have dug in with the help of other relatives in the building who let them use their kitchen and bathroom. Their lawyer, Brent Meltzer, said that help was one reason the tenants had not received an order from the city to vacate the building. Calls to the landlord, Joel Israel of Linden Ventures L.L.C., were not returned. In papers filed with Housing Court, Mr. Israel said Linden bought the building in January 2013 and had found “structural defects which pose a hazard to the residents.” The tenants, he said, have refused offers for alternate accommodations as he tries to rehabilitate the building.

But the city’s Buildings Department records show that a previous owner completed structure reinforcement work as recently as 2012. And Mr. Israel did not obtain permits for any construction work. Last August, the Buildings Department issued a stop-work order that has yet to be lifted.

The landlord has offered contradictory explanations for the damage to the property. Before the city’s Environmental Control Board to fight a violation issued by the Buildings Department for the unpermitted removal of plumbing fixtures and floors in the two apartments, Linden Ventures’ manager, Chaim Twersky, testified last November that the tenants had vandalized their own apartments because they were being evicted. The board’s administrative law judge hearing the case found for the landlord and dismissed the case.


Written By: By  FEB. 24, 2014

ElizabethWhited Elizabeth Whited | Company Website | LinkedIn Connect |

Elizabeth is the Operations Coordinator at the Rent Rite Directory. She has written educational articles for multifamily magazines and Real Estate websites to help Property Managers and Owners improve their properties, and reduce crime in their communities.

Blurred Lines: Multitasking in Multifamily Lowers Productivity

Written by Landlord Property Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

by Tim Blackwell


Not too long ago, multifamily industry training and Fair Housing consultant Anne Sadovsky found herself stopping a meeting because a property site manager kept her head down, fidgeting with her smart phone. The woman, about 40 years old, was seemingly oblivious to the discussion and full throttle into her device when Sadovsky put on the brakes.

“I finally said, ‘Are you doing something more important that what we’re doing right now?’ ” Sadovsky said. “She looked up at me and said, ‘Oh, no, I’m just looking for something to order.’”

When Sadovsky came up through the ranks of the apartment industry 40-plus years ago, the only orders she had during the workday were from her bosses. Failure to comply, she said, meant marching to the tune of a different order, the one that sent you packing.

“Heads would roll,” she said.

Today’s work environment is a little less rigid and much more accommodating to personal devices that are often blamed for distracting employees. Before personal technology, being disengaged at a meeting usually meant leaning back in your chair and twirling your pen or scribbling on your Daytimer. Today, just the presence of smart phones, iPads, and even laptops (is he really taking notes or posting to Facebook?) distract employees everywhere in the workplace.

It was a different time, even back in the 70s and 80s, Sadovsky concedes, but perhaps the work ethic and management of the day is a good history lesson that can be applied today. Employees are distracted and they need help to step back in line, she says.

Improve Property Management Staff Focus with Face-to-Face Accountability

In January, a San Francisco-based online meeting provider reported in a survey that most U.S. information workers multitask during meetings, which research shows lowers productivity, increases errors and causes stress among workers. Of 2,000 workers polled by Fuzebox, 92 percent said they have engaged in other activities while sitting around the conference table – 41 percent said they do it all the time or often. Tops among the multitasking offenses? Checking email.

Employees multitasking at meetings or just shunning work responsibilities to check social media create challenges for managers. The root of the problem, Fuzebox says, is a lack of face-to-face communication to hold employees accountable.

That resonates with Sadovsky.

“I think we went through a period where we didn’t have to oversee people so much because people were responsible,” she said. “They did what they were told to do and the way they were told to do it, and we were successful because of it. Today, you have to oversee them. You have to watch what they are doing. You have to stay on top of it, because they are so not-focused on work.”

Distracted Leasing Staff Affect the Bottom Line

Some may say that Generation Y employees are likely to be the most distracted because of their attachment to technology and dependencies on communication through electronic devices. However, according to one survey,middle-aged women are some of the most distracted, and not because they are spending time on Facebook or surfing the net. Females tend to get sidetracked at work because of personal and financial issues as well as a lack of resources.

In the multifamily housing industry, a distracted leasing agent or someone at the site level can cost an apartment property money. The 2013 Workplace Productivity Report shows that 25 percent of people studied were completely unproductive seven or more hours a week and that 22 percent of people were completely unproductive for five to six hours a week. Translated, that’s a day’s wage paid by an employer out the window.

Bringing a distracted worker back in line can be difficult for an already overloaded manager who has more front office responsibilities than other generations of site leaders, Sadovsky says. Increased supervision just adds to the daily laundry list, but it’s a necessary tool that managers today should pack.

“It’s truly hard to find people that you don’t have to (supervise), if, and I hate to say it, you want the job done right,” she said. “There has to be accountability. And there has to be oversight because this generation of worker gets sidetracked in their own stuff.”

Training and Supervision is Key to Reducing Distraction

Camden Property Trust’s Margaret Plummer doesn’t think that younger employees are more distracted than any other generation. She says that empowering technologically savvy Gen Y workers to work whatever way best fits, knowing there may be a tradeoff with some personal activity, can benefit the company in the long run.

“As kids, we were distracted at that age,” says the 46-year-old Plummer, who is Camden’s vice president of employee development. “Part of that is managing it. This group of kids has a different way of going about how to accomplish their tasks. Let them complete tasks the way they are comfortable doing it.”

But both Plummer and Sadovsky agree that a focused worker is a more productive, and that employees should be held accountable for their work and actions. Proper training is essential, especially in a day and time when workers truly have to multitask, whether in a meeting or not, because of the hectic pace of business.

Sadovsky suggests that managers commit to tools like online training programs to help shape employees. Most of all, get face-to-face with some good ol’ fashioned supervision.

“They are going to have to go back to truly supervising and overseeing the other people in the office,” Sadovsky said. “They need to know what their people are doing and they need to supervise it. Set some goals for them and get them out there. I think it’s just kind of gotten relaxed, and everyone kind of comes to work and does their thing.”

4 Easy Water Conservation Tips for Apartment Communities

Written by Landlord Property Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

WaterSavingsWith rising water rates, persistent drought conditions, and a growing U.S. population, water conservation is becoming more important every day. Water and sewerage costs have doubled in one of every four municipalities over the last 12 years, which can hurt property managers today and in the future.

Did you know that March 2013 was the 5th driest year nationally since 1895? According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), 50 percent of the U.S. continues to fight drought conditions. While conditions are improving, about seven percent of the contiguous U.S. was experiencing severe to extreme drought as of the end of September 2013. At the same time, other utility costs have increased faster than inflation, creating a need for conservation and improving efficiencies.

The time is right for apartment communities to begin—or improve on their existing—water conservation plans.

While implementing water conservation practices may sound like a very involved process, it doesn’t have to be. Typically, a few modifications with existing fixtures and systems will yield significant savings. A wealth of products and new technologies designed to reduce water consumption are readily available on the market today, helping properties save money while reducing their environmental impact.

Here are four easy water conservation tips to help you get started:

Tip 1: Go Low-Flow to Save Water

A number of plumbing products on the market today use less water but still get the job of rinsing, cleansing, and flushing done. The result is a large water savings which trickles down to a better bottom line.

Here are some smart solutions to save water in an apartment that are fast and easy replacements for your maintenance teams:

  • Replacing a standard 2.5 gallon per minute (GPM) kitchen faucet aerator with a 1.5 GPM saves 40 percent
  • Screwing in a 1.0 GPM aerator onto a 2.2 GPM bathroom faucet saves 54 percent and they are often $1 each or less
  • Installing low-flow showerheads (2.0 GPM or lower) and low-flush toilets (1.28 gallons per flush or lower) save up to 50 percent in water consumption and your residents won’t notice a difference

Tip 2: Adjust Water Volume in Older Toilets

Older toilets that still function can be retrofitted with a dual flush system that reduces the amount of water used for liquids and it is less expensive than replacing the whole toilet. Dual flush systems work best with 1.6- to 3.5 gallon per flush (GFP) toilets but can also be used on 1.28 GPF.

Tip 3: Smart Landscaping Conserves Water

By installing smart controllers, those that detect moisture and track local weather then change watering patterns, will keep landscapes looking good while reducing consumption.

Commercial Evapotranspiration Technology (ET)-based controllers are basically a thermostat for an apartment property’s sprinkler system. ET systems tell the water source when to turn on and off based on current conditions so that overwatering in minimized or even eliminated.

The beauty of installing smart controllers is that they are typically an even swap for the old controller. No additional upgrade of the irrigation system is necessary, and the change-out can be done rather quickly.

Tip 4: Look for WaterSense-Certified Products

Water conservation products certified by WaterSense®, a partnership program administered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), are readily available and are certified to use less water while not affecting efficacy.

The WaterSense program was launched to provide businesses and consumers with easy ways to save water, as both a label for products and a resource to people. To get a better idea of what the impact of upgrading to WaterSense products could be for your property, check out the WaterSense Water Savings Calculator. After filling in a couple of fields, the calculator will determine how much water, electricity, greenhouse gas emissions, and money can be saved by replacing your current fixtures with WaterSense certified fixtures.

Apartment communities have a great opportunity to conserve water by making a few small tweaks in their buying by seeking out water conservation products. Properties will not only save on their utility bills but will leave more water for future generations. It’s a win-win!

ElizabethWhited Elizabeth Whited | Company Website | LinkedIn Connect |

Elizabeth is the Operations Coordinator at the Rent Rite Directory. She has written educational articles for multifamily magazines and Real Estate websites to help Property Managers and Owners improve their properties, and reduce crime in their communities.