RED HOOK — Tenants of a Red Hook building are pushing back against steep rent increases and fighting to have their apartments declared rent-stabilized, according to reports.
Residents of the Monarch Luggage building, located at 14 Verona St., argue that because the building was constructed before 1974 and the landlord hasn’t done any significant renovations, their apartments should be should be converted into rent-stabilized units, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Their argument is based on a law that protects buildings built prior to 1974 with more than six units that haven't been more than 75 percent renovated.
“The landlord did not do the required work to convert a commercial building to a code-compliant residential building,” Jack Lester, attorney for the tenants, told DNAinfo New York.
However, an attorney for the landlord told the Journal that the law was meant to protect already existing rent-stabilized residential properties, rather than creating new ones.
Court papers show the landlord spent $3.5 million to renovate the building, which was originally a commercial property, for residential use, the newspaper reports.
But evidence, such as the Monarch building’s lack of passenger elevators, heated hallways and safe handrails, show that it was not completely renovated for residential purposes, Lester said.
The tenants are mostly artists, designers and architects who moved into the building while it was still registered as a manufacturing and commercial space. It was later rezoned as residential, according to the Department of Buildings’ website.
Tenants, who spent time and money renovating their apartments, began to fight back when the rent was raised by almost 60 percent in a year, according to the Journal.
City records show that Harbor Tech, LLC owns the building. Its attorney, as well as the attorney for the landlord, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The parties will appear in court at Brooklyn State Supreme Court on Thursday.