STUYVESANT TOWN, Manhattan (PIX11) – Stunned tenants gathered outside of the Stuyvesant town leasing office on Wednesday, demanding answers after more than one thousand Stuy-Town and Peter Cooper Village residents received notices, slipped under their doors, informing them of a massive rent increase that would go into effect on June 1st.
The increases have a broad range. New York City Councilman Dan Garodnick’s office said they heard reports from tenants ranging from $100 to $2200. Local officials gathered and vowed to use all avenues, political, legal and organizational to help tenants. For Garodnick, it is a very personal fight since he himself is a resident of Peter Cooper Village.
“The issue is people view their leases as a top line dollar amount. You know that you have it for a year. You know you have it for two years. I’ve never heard of anyone being subject to an increase in the middle of their lease term,” said Garodnick.
But that’s exactly what’s happened and it turns out it is legal. The rent increases were justified because of a recent settlement between tenants and owner, CWCapital. A provision was added to that settlement, giving CWCapital the green light to legally increase rent right in the middle of a lease agreement.
In a statement, CWCapital said, “…every one of these residents received notice several months ago with respect to the terms of the settlement, including the ability of the landlord to increase the rent mid-lease term” and “…there were no objections made to the court with respect to these terms.”
To some extent, outraged tenants did appear to make a difference. Just two hours after Wednesday’s press conference, CWCapital acknowledged the timing was a challenge for tenants. As a result, the management company changed the effective date from June 1st to July 1st.
Additionally, the settlement in the Stuy-Town settlement is limited to only Stuy-Town and has no bearing on other New York City tenants currently living in rent stabilized situations, according to legal housing expert David Hershey-Webb, a partner at Himmelstein and McConnell lawfirm.