With the $5.4 billion purchase of the Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village apartment complex by Tishman-Speyer, some longtime rent-stabilized tenants have been worried about whether they will be able to stay. Well, now tenants are complaining that Tishman-Speyer has been spying on them.
Some residents have received non-renewal letters, with Tishman-Speyer explaining that since the tenants do not use their Stuy Town-Peter Cooper apartment as a primary residence, then their lease can be over. The AP details some of the residents' complaints:
"It's like they're spying on us!" said Jeanette Besosa, who works at the United Nations.
Besosa was accused of keeping residences in Florida, Pennsylvania and Manhattan's Washington Heights; she's now assembling a thick binder of records demonstrating the Pennsylvania home is a weekend retreat, the Washington Heights townhouse an investment property, and the Florida address her son's rented college apartment.
Suzanne Ryan said the company ordered her family out of Peter Cooper Village by the end of May after discovering that she and her husband owned a Long Island beachfront house.
"Its a little Cape. We had fixed it up ourselves," Ryan said. But the family used it sporadically as a summer beach house, she said, and their residence was in the city where her two children attend Catholic school.
Hmm, there's nothing like digging through public records and credit application databases! Tishman-Speyer's response to the allegations is "If residents feel a notice has been sent in error, there is a process in place to address each case individually ... We only send notices when we believe there is true cause." We foresee a lot of tenants' rights lawyers getting a lot of work in the near future.
There's definitely a moral question about holding a rent-stabilized apartment while having other investments or properties, but that's not the point in this case. Spying on tenants is nothing new, especially when the possibility of raising rent is at stake. And the rent increases for market-rate tenants have been pretty insane.
Update: A tipster sends Curbed a link to some possible renderings of future Stuy-Town.
Photograph of Stuyvesant Town Oval by Marianne O'Leary on Flickr