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Edge Tenant Stops Paying Rent, Claiming Landlord Flouted Laws

WILLIAMSBURG — A tenant in the Edge luxury condos' required affordable housing division has refused to pay rent all spring on his studio apartment, court papers say — but the tenant claims the landlord has overcharged him ever since he moved into the waterfront building.

Joseph Moscato owes nearly $3,000 to the Edge, a lawsuit filed in New York Housing Court this month claims, alleging he failed to pay a portion of his dues in February and his full $959.91 rent in March, April and May. And although the Edge proprietors have asked him to leave the building, he "continues in possession of the premises," the suit says.

But Moscato, who has lived at the Edge since it opened in 2010, said his refusal to pay rent is a response to the landlord's flouting of affordable housing laws that allowed the Edge to overcharge tenants. The Edge was required by the city to build affordable housing as part of its major waterfront development

When he moved in, the Edge offered Moscato a one-year lease only and then raised his rent the following year, Moscato said, despite the city's legal requirement that affordable housing units offer a two-year lease option (according to housing law 2522.5, which states "the tenant shall have the right to select...a one- or two-year term").

Moscato said the one-year lease allowed the Edge to immediately raise his rent, which started at $886 and is now $959.91.

And he also said that despite city requirements that heat be included in affordable housing rent, the heat has been part of his Con Edison bills, costing him and other tenants about another $50 monthly in the winter.

"I want the landlord to follow the laws they're supposed to follow," he explained of his rent withholding. "I feel the landlord is taking advantage of people...I want them to rectify what's incorrect."

Lawyers for the Edge did not immediately respond to calls requesting comment on the case or on Moscato's claims, and officials from the New York City Division of Housing and Community Renewal declined to comment on the pending case.

But the officials did refer to city laws, including the two-year lease option requirement for landlords, and the requirement that landlords register rent increases with the city.

Moscato said he will represent himself in New York Housing Court Wednesday morning.