Ditmas Park tenants say 'No Way!' to landlords' demands for rent hike to pay for building repairs

Ditmas Park tenants say ‘No Way!’ to landlords’ demands for rent hike to pay for building repairs

New York Daily News
by Mark Morales
July 16, 2012

Tenants at 596 E. 22nd St. say they can't afford an $80 a room hike to pay for new boilers, windows and roof; landlord says that boost won't cover 'a fraction' of the repair costs

Fixed income residents at a Ditmas Park apartment building are seething over a rent hike proposal they say will move them straight to the the poorhouse.

The owners of the four-story building at 596 East 22nd St. want to raise their tenants’ rents by an extra $30 to $60 per month to pay for much needed repairs.

“We’re a low income family. We can’t afford it,” said Loraine Dellamore, who has lived in the building for the past 17 years. Dellamore said she pays $791 for her one bedroom apartment and if the landlord gets the increase he’s looking for, she’ll eventually have to pay an extra $240 a month. “It’s not fair,” said Dellamore. “For them it’s not about us having somewhere to live. It’s about what they can make and it’s really sad.”

Building owners East 22nd St. Towers LLC., applied to the Division of Housing and Community Renewal to charge tenants in the rent stabilized building for new boilers, repaired windows, retiled floors and a new roof. They estimate the cost at $380,000 and have applied to the agency to allow them to raise the rent by $80 per room.

“I think it’s too low,” said Cheskal Fisch, a representative for the group of owners. “There’s no way that even covers a fraction of the cost of the renovations that we’ve done. The tenants that are affected by this are paying very low rent and even after 10 years of rent increases, they’ll still be paying well below the market rate,” said Fisch.

Residents said the landlord group let the building fall into disrepair and has no right to jack up the rent and make them pay for repairs. “That would be a real hardship,” said Hugh Williams, 65. “I’m just a regular person who goes to work. I’m not wealthy.”

Tammy Brake said she only pays $500 for her two bedroom apartment but said the $320 increase she would have to pay would be too much for her to handle. “It’s outrageous,” said Brake. “It’s going to be a struggle. I have a daughter in college that I have to pay for.”

Gloria Campbell, who has lived in the building for the last 35 years said she “almost had a heart attack” when she learned she may have to pay an extra $300 a month. “I can’t afford that,” said Campbell. “If he wants to charge $80 per room he’s out of his mind,” said Campbell of the landlord.