From today's NYTimes , a story of elderly, long-time tenants being harassed by an evil, corporationy corporation:
Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village are home to roughly 20,000 New Yorkers. There were 8,037 rent-stabilized apartments when Tishman Speyer bought the property in 2006, and now there are 7,297, a loss of 740, according to the company. All of those 740 rent-regulated units became market-rate apartments, increasing the market-rate total to 3,935.Essentially, evil corporationy landlords harass tenants and neglect needed repairs in rent controlled apartments because there is a strong financial incentive to do so. While this happens in buildings large and small, the above case is notable because of the size and location of the property(big, and awesome). Some of the investigation techniques used by the evil corporation are downright lazy and Googlicious:
In 2007, Tishman Speyer accused Dolores J. Shapiro, 62, an anthropologist and retired professor of nursing, of actually living in Naperville, Ill. Ms. Shapiro says she has never been to Naperville. She hired a lawyer, James B. Fishman, who discovered in an Internet search that a woman with the same name but a different middle initial — Dolores M. Shapiro — appeared to reside at the Naperville address.
This is generally distressing, but don't feel too bad for them yet:
Edward Stanley, 53, a retired police detective and Stuyvesant Town resident for three decades, said he and his wife each sat through a two-hour deposition after Tishman Speyer accused the couple of living in the summer house they own on Long Island. “They asked my wife if she kept a toothbrush in the apartment in Manhattan,” said Mr. Stanley, referring to the lawyers representing Tishman Speyer. “You’re being forced into a position where you have to justify your existence to these people.”
His legal fees have exceeded $5,000.
A number of accused tenants are people in their 60s and 70s who say the ordeal of proving their occupancy is highly stressful. Tishman Speyer claims that Gladys Serringer’s Stuyvesant Town apartment — where she moved in 1991, keeps framed family portraits in the living room and pays $1,300 monthly rent — is not her primary residence.
“If I don’t live here year-round, why would I have my heirlooms here?” asked Ms. Serringer, a retired United Nations employee who is disputing allegations that she lives in property she owns in Florida and Maryland.
It's good to know their property is being well-utilized as below-market heirloom storage. Strangely, the article didn't delve into whether or not their yacht records could prove primary residency. And the stress of your wife being asked where she keeps her toothbrush must be simply overwhelming for a retired police detective.
In this case, Bloggy Blog is going to don a bright-orange Neocon jumpsuit and call the artificial economic construct of rent-control a bunch of baloney. Responding to inadequate housing supply by further restricting it -- for the benefit of a chosen few, doesn't make a whole lot of sense. This strategy worked out pretty well for DeBeers, but obviously disadvantages those who have to scrap for market-rate rent or spend long hours commuting. The real estate version of a non-equilibrium state assures the development of tenant fraud and landlord-hijinks.
In the end, the article's inadvertent characterization of these golden beneficiaries is one of well-off retirees with a victim/entitlement mentality. Curbed seems to buy into the plight of the idle rich, but many of the commenters weren't so easily led. The next time NYTimes wants it's readers to feel sorry for someone, they might want to spend some time finding some people worth feeling sorry for (they can start with the huddled masses of exposed bloggers).