2008_05_nycapt.jpgAs tenants and landlords await to see what the rent hikes for rent-stabilized apartments will be, the NY Times looks at a new breed landlords: Private equity firms that buy buildings with rent-regulated apartments.

The strategy seems to be for the firms to "recapture" the rent-regulated apartments by somehow increasing the vacancy rate from the more typical 5% to 20-30%. And tenants' advocates indicate equity firms do that by making tenants' lives hell to the point where some residents are suing the firms. One of the plaintiffs lives in a Woodside, Queens building bought by Vantage Properties told the Times he's been sued three times, "twice for nonpayment of rent" he actually did pay and that Vantage received.

The head of Vantage said, "Only in instances where we need to act to protect our own rights do we ever find ourselves in any litigation with a tenant and it is never with the intention to harass them." Which is probably interesting news to the tenants' advocate who found that Vantage has "filed almost a thousand cases in housing court against tenants since October 2006."

Check out Vantage's website: "Vantage Residential is dedicated to proving that a fabulous apartment in a hip neighborhood doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg."

Photograph by RGP on Flickr