Blackstone Shifts Gears

Blackstone is now renovating and leasing all its vacant units in Stuy-town. This happened quickly after facing criticism regarding revelations that the company has been keeping 20 to 50 percent of rent-regulated apartments. This was Blackstone's initial reaction to the City’s new rent laws which (amongst other things) reduced the amount that landlords can claim in renovation expenses from $40,000 to $15,000 over a 15 year period. Considering the generous and detailed deal with the City, Blackstone seems to have kicked things back into gear. Apparently Blackstone is supposed to report how many units are being leased two times a year, with their next report due this week.

To give Blackstone some credit, the laws are still unclear. Mostly surrounding vacancy increases for rent-stabilized apartments and application fees. Nearly 400 NY landlords met to discuss the situation with possible solutions.

In other rent-related news, notorious landlord Steve Croman gets slapped with another lawsuit for trying to illegally deregulate apartments. Apparently he was taking advantage of a tax break program (J-51) that required 32 of his rentals to be stabilized while there were only 10. "It estimates that this scheme impacted more than 100 current and former tenants of the building and argues that they are entitled to financial compensation based on the illegal overcharges." This comes after two years have gone by since Croman pled guilty to grand larceny, falsifying business records and criminal tax fraud. Additionally, he's facing a similar lawsuit from tenants in his East Harlem building at 326-340 East 100th Street. Croman is being accused of wrongfully removing almost 70 percent of the building’s residential units from the state’s rent stabilization program.

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