STUY TOWN — Residents of Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village were shocked to find a notice taped to their doors on Tuesday that said tenants had two weeks to either pay a mid-lease rent increase or move out.
CW Capital, the primary lease holder of the property, distributed notices detailing rent increases ranging from $100 to more than $900 per month, and said tenants would have to decide whether to pay the increase within the next two weeks or move out within 60 days of the notice that was given out on Tuesday afternoon. On Wednesday, the company extended the deadline to give the tenants an extra 30 days, until July 1, to pay the increase.
“It was like we were being served,” said Bethany Mizrahi, a 37-year-old mother of five children and a resident of Peter Cooper Village. “There was no prior notice that this would be happening.
"The major concern is that a lot us are going to have to leave, and I think that’s what they want. We might have to leave, and possibly pull our kids out of their schools. It’s going to be a big problem.”
Bethany said she would not be able to afford to pay $2,200 more for her apartment, as specified on the notice taped to her door, and might have to find another place to live.
“We just lost all our services, were missing laundry rooms, basements and laundry service, and it’s been a huge burden for us,” said Mizrahi. “We still don’t know when those services will be restored. That was just a few months ago, and now this.”
After at least a hundred tenants showed up to a press conference on Wednesday afternoon to protest the rent hike, CW Capital released a statement saying it would extend the deadline for tenants to begin paying the increase, giving them an extra 30 days.
"The attorneys and tenant representatives were fully aware of these terms and concluded that they preferred this outcome to others that were available to them during the negotiations," CW Capital said in a statement. "Despite these facts, we recognize that the timing of these increases may pose logistical challenges for some residents. In recognition of this, we are extending the date on which increases will go into effect by 30 days."
Last month, the City Supreme Court ruled to approve the Roberts class action settlement initiated by the ST-PCV Tenants Association, which meant tenants who were overcharged market rents were to be reimbursed $68.7 million in damages.
Fine print in leases that were activated by the recent Roberts settlement allows CW Capital to increase rents on the property during the middle of the current lease, said a statement released by City Councilman Dan Garodnick.
“As you may know, this agreement was reached with the plaintiffs as an equitable resolution to a lawsuit that CW Capital inherited from Tishman Speyer and Met Life,” the notice to tenants reads. “If you want to exercise your right to terminate your lease and vacate, please return the enclosed form as soon as possible but no later than 30 days from the notice date.”
Elected officials organized a press conference Wednesday in front of the property's leasing office located on First Avenue near 16th Street.
“A rent mid-lease increase of $900 is nothing less than an eviction notice,” Garodnick said in the statement. “We are tired of this neighborhood being treated like an ATM machine. It shocks the conscience to see a landlord using any means necessary to raise rents with no regard for its effect on the community.”
Peter Micheels, a 68-year-old resident of Stuyvesant Town for 30 years, said he would have to move out if the rent increases are enforced, and he hoped that support from elected officials would keep CW Capital from going through with it.
“They’re basically pirates,” said Micheels. “If they can just hike the rent in the middle of the term, what stops them from raising the rent every 10 minutes?”