NEWS AND ISSUES


May 14, 2008

Rob Speyer
President
Tishman Speyer
Rockefeller Center
45 Rockefeller Plaza
New York, NY 10111

Dear Mr. Speyer:

I am writing to express my serious concerns about the persistent problems facing the tenants of Peter Cooper Village and Stuyvesant Town (PCV/ST). Ever since Tishman Speyer purchased the property in 2006, my office has received a steady stream of complaints regarding the manner in which management treats residents. While I and my staff have assisted many PCV/ST tenants on a case-by-case basis, it is clear that there is a pattern of management aggressiveness that must be addressed.

Among the complaints that my office has received are two that directly affect the rent-stabilized tenants living in the complex: management's frequent issuance of both notices of non-renewal (also known as "Golub Notices") and 10-day notices to cure for illegal subletting to legitimate rent stabilized tenants.

I have learned that many of the rent-stabilized tenants who have received the notices of non-renewal had been confronted with such accusations by PCV/ST's previous owner, MetLife, and had successfully refuted them. Yet, Tishman Speyer has targeted these same residents as part of the approximately 15% of all tenants up for renewal that George Hatzmann indicated to New York City Councilmember Dan Garodnick get such notices every month. Furthermore, these tenants are being held to a higher burden of proof than tenants of many other rent-stabilized apartments. Tenants in New York City often need only to submit tax, driver's license, and voter registration records to prove their legal primary residencies. However, my office has compiled records from tenants stating that Tishman Speyer lawyers have requested additional information that they have found difficult to provide. Further, many of these tenants indicated that they faced difficulty in resolving these cases without hiring an attorney because Tishman Speyer staff has been slow to respond or altogether unresponsive to their inquiries.

I have also learned that the increasing number of rent-stabilized PCV/ST tenants receiving 10-day notices to cure for illegal subletting are not being provided explanations of the evidence against them, or sufficient time in which to respond accurately and completely. This is yet another policy that confuses and frustrates the tenants. While I understand that landlords have the right to ensure that their tenants are legal residents, the approach Tishman Speyer has taken is unnecessarily hostile both to tenants in question and the entire PCV/ST community.

I should note that the complaints that I have received about PCV/ST management have not come solely from rent-stabilized tenants. My office has received reports from a number of market rate tenants who received renewal leases from Tishman Speyer increasing their rents by as much as 30 percent. Moreover, these tenants have been given only 30 days before their leases expire to decide if they wish to renew them. The normal practice is for landlords to offer tenants a new lease 60 days prior to the expiration of their current lease. Tishman Speyer's 30-day timeframe pressures tenants to accept new leases at higher rates than they may be able to comfortably afford because they do not have time to pursue alternatives. Furthermore, tenants have reported that these rent increases are non-negotiable and that they have had difficulty contacting a Tishman Speyer representative to discuss their lease renewals.

I am baffled that Tishman Speyer would continue such actions given New York City's housing crisis and looming recession. PCV/ST's marketing efforts suggest there are now a significant number of vacant apartments. Tishman Speyer has placed ads offering new tenants one month free rent and has changed PCV/ST's pet policy to attract new tenants to fill those empty units, yet it continues to squeeze existing market rate tenants for higher rents. I ask that Tishman Speyer provide market rate tenants with an appropriate timeframe in which to make decisions on renewal leases, and to make publicly available the name and contact information of the representative who handles the lease renewals at the managing office.

For nearly 60 years, PCV/ST has been a haven for New Yorkers in this bustling city. I urge you to revisit and change the management policies that you have put in place at PCV/ST to ensure that this community and its residents may continue to thrive.

Sincerely,


Thomas K. Duane
New York State Senate
29th District


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