Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Vantage taking advantage

A landlord on a buying spree in Queens has stopped filing new Housing Court actions against its tenants in the borough after residents sued the company three months ago, alleging the company was harassing tenants in an effort to boost rents.

Manhattan-based Vantage Properties has not brought any new cases against tenants for not paying their rents or living in their apartments without a lease since early April.

Vantage has partnered with private-equity firms to finance the purchase of about 9,500 units of mostly rent-stabilized housing in New York City over the past few years.

On April 4, Vantage Properties filed its last actions, called non-payment or holdover cases, in Queens Housing Court. On April 10, six tenants in Vantage Properties buildings filed a lawsuit in New York State Supreme Court claiming the landlord filed unnecessary legal actions against residents.

The suit alleges the owners sought to remove tenants at more than the average 5.6 percent turnover rate the Rent Guidelines Board said exists in rent-stabilized apartments, in part through housing court actions.

Prior to the lawsuit by tenants, attorneys for Manhattan-based Vantage Properties brought an average of 50 cases per month against residents, according to a review of cases by The Real Deal.

The company's attorneys brought 72 cases against residents in January, 39 in February and 45 in March.

Vantage halts new Queens lawsuits

They're wary in the Bronx: Mayor Bloomberg recently signed Local Law 7, a new anti-harassment law giving tenants added protection from landlord pressure, so advocates are watching for tactics owners sometimes use to convince rent-regulated tenants to give up their leases, like eviction threats, contrived arrears charges, neglected repairs and high-pressure buyout offers.

And in Brooklyn, too:

In a second round of bidding for Starrett City, eight groups submitted bids Tuesday that were substantially lower than a failed $1.3 billion offer made last year for the working- and middle-class enclave on Jamaica Bay in Brooklyn.

The winner, in all likelihood, will be a nonprofit housing company, rather than the kind of private equity firms and large developers that have purchased block after block of apartment buildings for rapidly rising prices over the last seven years.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Ever visited Craigslist recently? It looks like rents all across Queens are decreasing. And this is during the prime rental season.

I think Vantage is having trouble boosting rents due to market conditions, not because of some court order.