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BY LINCOLN ANDERSON | Tenants and housing activists, joined by Councilmember Rosie Mendez, rallied on E. Third St. near Second Ave. Monday to protest the landlord’s move to kick out tenants from 17 apartments in three adjacent tenements.
In recent years, East Village landlords have been chasing out rent-regulated tenants with such legal-but-dubious means as “demolition eviction” and “owner occupancy eviction.” However, in this latest case, the tenants are actually paying market-rate rents.
It’s a mystery exactly what the thinking is of the landlord, Abart Holdings. But affected tenants at Nos. 50, 54 and 58 E. Third St. say they suspect it’s because Abart is planning to sell the three buildings — which have 72 units total — and that offering them with 24 percent of the units vacant would sweeten the deal for the buyer. It’s suspected Abart would renovate the empty apartments, installing granite countertops, stainless-steel appliances and the like, enabling the new owner to jack up the rents further beyond the current $2,500 or $3,000.
Married couple Greg Essenpreiss, 40, a social worker, and Sue Palchak, 38, a hair stylist, received notices from the landlord that their lease would not be renewed. They’re supposed to vacate by next week.
“We’re not leaving,” Essenpreiss declared. “My wife and I have lived in the East Village 15 years. We didn’t move here just because we thought it would be cool — we love the East Village.”
David Moster, an N.Y.U. religion graduate student, shares “a very small three-bedroom” in one of the buildings with two roommates. They pay $3,000 a month. They, too, received a notice saying their lease won’t be renewed.
“We should have the right to live in our homes and we should be able to stay here, no matter what,” Moster said.
Councilmember Mendez said things must change. The state Senate Republicans are making laws affecting the city’s housing, and “they don’t give a s— about us!” she fumed. Pressure needs to exerted in Albany, as well as on the city’s Rent Guidelines Board, she said.
– Video by Liza Béar