Tenants of the formerly rent-stabilized Brooklyn Jewish Hospital apartment complex in Crown Heights, on Classon Avenue between St. Mark’s Avenue and Prospect Place, have received notices of market-rate rent increases from management company Alma Realty. The allowable increase for rent-stabilized apartments is 1 percent for 1-year leases and 2.75 percent for 2-year leases, according to the NYC Rent Guidelines Board. In a neighborhood changing as rapidly as Crown Heights is, this move from Alma Realty pushes the boundaries of what management companies can get away with in the face of a deepening tenant cash pool.
The announced non-stabilized increases range from 4.5 to 7 percent, DNA Info reported, which is fairly typical of market-rate apartments but several times more than a stabilized increase would be. It’s the difference between a rent of $1,100 going to $1,111 versus $1,100 going to $1,149.50 or $1,177. While fifty or sixty dollars may not sound like much, it often means a week’s worth of groceries, or several more hours’ wages going to cover housing instead of other living costs, all of which have risen steadily in the rapidly changing neighborhood.
But the Brooklyn Jewish Hospital apartments are not the only ones in the area that have seen loophole-riddled destabilization of apartments, coupled with rapaciously piddling buyouts for longtime tenants. The New York Daily News reported in August that Manhattan-based BCB Property Management had offered buyouts to tenants of 1059 Union Street, which it purchased last June for $8.2 million. Tenants who have chosen to stay have faced gas shutoffs and generally deteriorating conditions in the apartments they continue to pay for, while building owners treat holdouts like roadblocks.
As management companies continue buying up land and buildings far beyond their glassy Manhattan headquarters, the term “management company” is becoming terrifically ironic: Management of what, exactly? Management of the forced buyout and flipping of central Brooklyn apartment buildings? Management of short sales and all-cash buys that render neighborhoods unlivable for most of the city, much less the borough? While there seems to be no end in sight for the cash-rich and morally bankrupt agencies playing kickball over Brooklyn, we might wish de Blasio’s affordable housing plan extended to extant, once-affordable housing, rather than only freshly zoned and built new units. Who knew rent-stabilized was only rent-stabilized for now?
Follow John Sherman on Twitter @_john_sherman.