A couple dozen people on Tuesday marched in the Bronx in favor of legislation that would nix rent increases they claim they were unfairly saddled with.
Gathered in front of the Bronx Housing Court with signs reading "no more threats" and "shame on you", tenants at 3425 Gates Place, an apartment complex in Norwood, expressed support for state legislation that would eliminate major capital improvements and individual apartment improvements. Those tools allow landlords to recoup investments in upgrades to common areas and individual apartments, respectively, by increasing the rent.
At 3425 Gates Place, the state agency overseeing rent-regulated housing approved a major capital improvement that allowed the landlord to apply an $81.33-per-room monthly rent hike to leases renewed from Sept. 1, 2018, onward, according to Nova Lucero, a tenant organizer with the Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition.
But the landlord, The Morgan Group, began improperly charging some residents before their leases were renewed and was not upfront with tenants about how work in their apartments may be classified as individual apartment improvements, Lucero said.
In response, some residents stopped sending rent to The Morgan Group in November and more have followed suit, Lucero said. A total of 18 households are now engaged in the rent strike, she said.
“It’s very difficult. Nobody told us they were going to increase it,” Sari Rosales, 38, a resident at the building, said through a translator.
Rosales, who has three children, has lived in the building for seven years and has not paid rent in three months. Rosales said the landlord is seeking to increase her $1,294 monthly rent by $220.
“It’s too high; it’s just too high,” she said. “To be honest, there’s nothing else we can do to be able to make up for that.”
Silvia Estudillo, 40, has lived in the building for 10 years, said that she had no say in the renovations that were done in the apartment, and she dislikes the changes.
“Before we didn’t hear when our neighbor turned on the faucet, and now we hear that,” Estudillo said through a translator.
She added that the bathroom feels narrower than it was before.
“I don’t think this is good. There’s no privacy right now," Estudillo said. "To be honest, I can’t pay.”
A representative for The Morgan Group did not immediately respond to a request for comment.