Volume 20, Number 37 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | August 25 - September 1- 7, 2010

“The principal here is very clear: J-51 is a benefit not just for the landlords but for the tenants as well,” said State Senator Daniel Squadron, surrounded by Julie Menin (far left), Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer (left), and Ed Rosner, an I.P.N. tenant and vice president of the building’s tenant association.

Rent stability returns to I.P.N. after five years

BY Aline Reynolds

Tenants of Independence Plaza North in Tribeca came out victorious on Tuesday after a five-year-long battle with their landlord.

State Supreme Court Judge Marcy S. Friedman ruled yesterday that Independence Plaza North should return to the rent-stabilization program. The landlord, Laurence Gluck, destabilized hundreds of units in 2004 and rents subsequently increased forcing some tenants to move out of the building.

Stellar Management and Gluck continued to receive tax abatements two years after I.P.N. was taken out of the Mitchell-Lama program. The city kept issuing tax abatements to the landlord, which, according to Friedman’s ruling, makes I.P.N. subject to rent-stabilization. Her ruling effectively stabilized rents for any tenant who moved into I.P.N. prior to March 2006

“The rent has almost doubled,” said Ed Rosner, vice president of the Tenant’s Association. “Now, that’s illegal, and we’re going to get the full measure of the rent stabilization protections.”

Elected officials, community advocates tenants convened on Tuesday in front of I.P.N. to celebrate their victory.

“It feels good to prevail on all the points that we advanced after fighting for five years and suffering harassment and threats from landlords,” said Rosner. “We hung in there, we fought the good fight, and we won.”

“The judge’s decision validates something we’re seeing across the city: that state legislators created… the program for a reason: and that reason was to spur on affordable housing,” said State Senator Daniel Squadron.

The J-51 law is supposed to be a “give” and a “take,” he added, between landlords and tenants.

“The State Supreme Court has sent a strong message that landlords may not unjustifiably raise rents while receiving tax breaks,” said city Council Member Margaret Chin in a statement. “And it will help us preserve one of the last bastions of affordable housing in Lower Manhattan.”

“Tenants are dealing with harassments and deteriorating building conditions all the while the owners have been seeking tax breaks from the city,” said Mary Russell-Ciardi, executive director of Tenants and Neighbors, a statewide grassroots organization committed to preserving affordable housing and tenants’ rights. “We’ve been trying to do outreach with these tenants to get them to try to fight back and say this is unjust.”

Congressman Jerrold Nadler said in a statement, “Maintaining affordable housing is critical for the health and welfare of our city, and I am hopeful that yesterday’s ruling will establish, once and for all, that the law protects tenants from landlords’ attempts to undermine rent stabilization and other housing regulations.”

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