Ah, Brooklyn, the slice of gentrifying urban America where you can buy a pork slider inside a donut, browse distinct specialty stores for artisanal mayonnaise, terrariums, and beard grooming products, and pay an average price of $2,682 for a one-bedroom apartment. But many Brooklynites lived there before the mayo emporiums and donut sliders. Their apartments might be slightly more affordable. This isn't good for landlords, who know they could make more money renting to a wealthier newcomer at a higher rate.
You might feel paranoid that your landlord is conspiring to evict you from an affordable apartment that allows you to survive in this utopia for carefree living. The real estate web site The Real Deal has now confirmed your worst fears.
A reporter, attending a Brooklyn real estate summit last week, relates a disturbing talk given by landlord attorney Michelle Maratto Itkowitz on how to "de-tenant" occupied and rent-stabilized buildings. (Did you know "de-tenant" was a verb, like "de-louse"? Now you do.) The lawyer advocates that landlords dispense with illegal, aggressive tactics towards tenants, and instead employee merely dishonest tactics, gaming New York City law by filing building demolition plans that legally allow landlords to evict tenants. Whether the landlord ultimately goes ahead with the demolition or even ever intends to at all, she says, doesn’t really matter—"demolition evictions" achieve the goal of getting low-rent tenants out of there.
The lawyer in question maintains her speech was misinterpreted by "the Press," because this was her most "left-wing leaning presentation to landlords ever." She writes on her blog: "I represent as many tenants as landlords and have saved many homes. I am saving homes as we speak today."
That may be, but she doesn’t realize that the effect of an eviction on renters is the same whether landlords use sneaky tactics or straightforward ones, and the pittance of $5,000 in moving expenses that landlords must pay to tenants affected by demolition evictions will mean little if the tenants can’t find another apartment they can afford. The greed behind these kinds of discussions is what is horrifying to so many New Yorkers. Thanks to The Real Deal, tenants have a small glimpse behind the curtain.