Landlord Uses Rent Hikes to Clear Tenants From Yorkshire Towers, They Say

By Sybile Penhirin on August 1, 2014 11:21am | Updated on August 4, 2014 8:43am

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 The owner of an UES high-rise is pushing tenants out by refusing to renew their lease or increasing their rents by over 30 percent, tenants say.
Yorkshire Towers Rent Increases
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UPPER EAST SIDE — Tenants of a towering Upper East Side building recently saw their rents increase by as much as $1,000 per month, forcing some of them out of their homes, they said.

Yorkshire Towers, a 707-apartment building at 305-315 E. 86th St., is in the process of being sold to Laurence Gluck's Stellar Management and the Chetrit Group, according to tenants and reports. Current owner Schneider & Schneider appears to be clearing out as many of the market-rate tenants as possible in advance of the sale, dozens of residents said.

Some tenants were recently told their leases would not be renewed when they expired, while others had their rent increased by more than 35 percent, they said.

“They dragged me around for months before telling me I had to move out because my apartment was going to be renovated,” said Pete Huszagh, who will leave Yorkshire Towers in September.

Several other market-rate tenants said the building's management did not respond to their calls about lease renewals for weeks or even months, and then recently told them that the only way they could renew their lease was to pay hundreds of dollars more.

“I’ve been without a lease since May," said Lauren, 35, who declined to give her full name because she's worried about reprisal from her landlord. "A few weeks ago the building’s leasing agent told me my studio rent would increase by $650. This is crazy."

Another tenant, who is moving out this week, said she wasn't even given the choice to pay more and stay.

“The landlord told us in June that our lease would not be renewed and that we had to move out, period," said the tenant, who declined to give her name because she's waiting to get her security deposit back. "We were really surprised."

On Wednesday morning, two one-bedroom apartments were being emptied. At one of them, the rent had recently increased by $1,000, the tenant's friend said as he helped the tenant move out.

Yorkshire Towers, a 703,000-square-foot building that opened 50 years ago, is evenly split between rent-stabilized and market-rate apartments, tenants said. Rent-stabilized residents said they had not been affected by the recent market-rate rent hikes, but they were alarmed to lose so many of their neighbors. 

"I've never seen that many people moving out in one week," said Gilbert Sadater, a rent-stabilized tenant who has been living in the building for 43 years. "I believe there are about 100 vacant flats in the building now."

Schneider & Schneider, Stellar Management and Chetrit Group did not return calls for comment.

In June, Stellar and Chetrit were close to buying Yorkshire Towers from Schneider & Schneider for $500 million, the Daily News reported.

The sale has not yet been finalized, but Doron Gopstein, head of the Yorkshire Towers tenants association, told residents at a meeting last week that it was in active negotiations. Gopstein said he had spoken with "knowledgeable sources" before passing the news on to tenants.

"It's a matter of weeks, but I don't have any specific time," Gopstien said of the sale.

Rosalind Burd, an 86-year-old rent-stabilized tenant who has been living in Yorkshire Towers for 34 years, said she's worried the new owners will turn the building into luxury units.

“It's sad because it used to be such a lovely place with middle-class people,” Burd said. “Now that the city is thriving, these people are being pushed out.”

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