Law Would Fine Landlords Who Bar Rent-Regulated Tenants from Amenities

By Emily Frost on March 10, 2014 2:15pm 

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 A new bill from Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal calls for a $25,000 fine to be levied on landlords who bar rent regulated tenants from accessing building amenities. 
New Bill Would Penalize Landlords Who Don't Share Amenities Equally
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UPPER WEST SIDE — A local lawmaker is planning to introduce a bill that would fine landlords $25,000 for barring rent-regulated tenants from accessing building amenities after discovering widespread evidence of the practice.

Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal said the measure would penalize building owners who prohibit those tenants from accessing building amenities and services like gyms, pools, playrooms, roof decks or free shuttles.

If found guilty of unequal treatment of tenants, a landlord would be fined $25,000 and not allowed to implement rent increases until the violation is fixed, Rosenthal said. 

Rosenthal is pursuing the new law after rent-regulated tenants at two Upper West Side apartment buildings told her they weren't allowed to use their buildings' gyms, following the revelation by DNAinfo that the practice was occuring at another nearby property.

The Greystone on West 91st Street, which boasts of "awesome services and amenities" on its website, and The Astor on West 75th Street have both barred rent-regulated tenants from using their gym, she said. 

Representatives from both properties did not respond to requests for comment.

Rosenthal also found other buildings that provide free shuttle service to subway stops for market-rate tenants but not rent-regulated residents.

The proposed law follows the news first reported by DNAinfo last month that rent regulated-residents at Stonehenge Village, who make up 60 percent of the West 97th Street complex, weren't allowed into a new lobby-level gym that their management company said was only for market-rate tenants. 

"This kind of discrimination sends the message that rent-regulated tenants are second-class citizens, somehow not as good or deserving as market-rate tenants," the assemblyowman said.

Jean Dorsey, president of the building's tenant association, said Stonehenge has not changed its policy regarding the gym since the story broke.

"Both the fine and denial of rent increases are real proof that there are consequences and will make owners think twice before acting in such a hurtful manner," Dorsey said of the measure. 

Stonehenge Management declined to comment. 

Public Advocate Letitia James and other leaders also railed against the practice, calling it illegal. James filed a complaint with the  New York State Human Rights Division alleging that the policy is discriminatory. 

The difference in accessibility is "unfair, damaging to the tenants and their families and the social fabric of this city, and it must be stopped," Rosenthal added.

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