Justa Lopez, a 100-year-old woman, has resided in her E. 78th Street apartment on the Upper East Side for over 50 years. Last year she fell and broke her pelvic bone and has transitioned from a hospital, to a nursing home, and to her daughter's home over the course of her lengthy recovery from the accident. Lopez has never missed a rent payment, yet her landlord surprisingly served her with an eviction notice recently. The basis for the eviction from her rent-controlled apartment is that she no longer lives there. The law requires rent-controlled units to be the tenant's primary residence and she has been temporarily staying elsewhere to recover from her injury. Lopez is convinced that the landlord simply wants to evict her so the apartment can be rented for the current market price.
She says that her fall was partially a result of the poor condition of the apartment floor, which has not been repaired despite numerous requests. The uneven floor caused her walker to roll away just prior to her falling accident. Lopez thinks that the landlord has been monitoring her absence from her two-bedroom apartment via security cameras in the building.
She originally moved into the apartment in 1963 when the rent price was $57 per month, which is currently $149 per month. The landlord certainly would have financial motivation to evict Lopez, as a similar two-bedroom unit in the building recently rented for $2,700 per month. A local attorney heard of the situation and chose to represent her in the legal proceeding for no charge. He feels that she will prevail in this matter based on the provisions of the law.
Rent controlled units are largely found in apartment buildings built prior to 1947 as part of post-World War II emergency housing. Most rent-controlled units are for those who have resided there continuously since 1971. Once the apartment is vacated, the rent control agreement is terminated, or it may be subject to rent stabilization. Over 50 cities in the State of New York have some type of rent-controlled units. There are currently about 27,000 rent controlled units and 1,030,000 rent-stabilized units in the state today. A good majority of these tenants are older individuals with low to moderate levels of income.
Apartments which have stabilized rent include those in buildings containing over six units that were constructed between 1947 and 1974. These buildings were incentivized at the time to offer affordable local housing with some special tax benefits. There were also groups of buildings that were refurbished that contain a minimum of three apartment units that were eligible for tax benefits and have stabilized rent. Typically, the stabilization of rent continues only until the agreed-upon tax benefit expires; however, there are many types of exceptions based on circumstances. Many of these units are eventually deregulated or transitioned to a co-op unit. These rules are under the administration of the New York State Division of Housing & Renewal.