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Crown Heights Tenants Plan March on Landlords in Bid to Prevent Rent Hikes

 Members of the Crown Heights Tenants Union rally in the neighborhood in March. The group will hold their second rally and march this Saturday.
Members of the Crown Heights Tenants Union rally in the neighborhood in March. The group will hold their second rally and march this Saturday.
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Facebook/Crown Heights Tenants Union

CROWN HEIGHTS — Residents are planning a march this weekend to demand a halt to soaring rent hikes — and put their landlords on notice that they expect better treatment.

Members of the Crown Heights Tenants Union will march this Saturday through the neighborhood “to show how Crown Heights is becoming unaffordable,” starting at Washington Avenue and Eastern Parkway at noon and ending at Brower Park, according to the group’s website.

The Crown Heights Tenants Union formed last fall to organize as many renters in the area as possible, said Cea Weaver, 24, a Crown Heights resident and organizer with CHTU. She said the group now has roughly 30 tenant associations on board with the union’s list of demands, which they will deliver to their landlords during the march.

Among the demands include urging landlords to be more responsive to tenants' requests for repairs. They also want landlords to automatically renew leases unless otherwise notified by tenants, as well as the right for tenants to obtain a rent history to inspect whether the rent amounts have been improperly increased at any time in the past, according to the document.

But the larger goal of the rally, Weaver said, is to make their demands heard beyond Crown Heights in the runup to June 23, the date set for the Rent Guidelines Board to vote on rent increases for rent-regulated apartments for the next five years.

“We are really hoping to building momentum for that citywide issue, [while] at the same time, letting the landlord know we’re here, we want to work with you, these are the things we want you to do to work with us,” Weaver said.

Members of the 85 Eastern Parkway Tenants Association in Prospect Heights will lend their support at the march to say “enough is enough,” said Isabelle Broyer, 47, a worker at the United Nations and a member of the association. After her landlord submitted plans to double the size of her apartment building without alerting tenants, she attended one of CHTU’s monthly membership meetings.

“They really have an agenda,” she said. “It’s not just for complaining about the situation. They’re really trying to do something about it.”

Broyer said concerns in her building are those of many rent-stabilized tenants, who want to learn about their rights.

“We’re not sure really where our landlord will take these practices or what will be next,” she said. “Is it the start of a new trend?”

The CHTU rally and march will start at 12 p.m. at Washington Avenue and Eastern Parkway and conclude at 2:30 p.m. at Brower Park with a picnic and free legal help for tenants from South Brooklyn Legal Services. For more information about the event and route, visit the union's website.