NEW YORK CITY: If you’re a landlord and you overcharge tenants in a taxpayer-subsidized building, yo u may get a polite letter that orders you to follow the rules in the future. It leaves it up to you to decid e whether to lower rents or issue refunds – @AceFinanceNews

#AceFinanceNews – July.10: This Is What New York’s ‘Voluntary Compliance’ For Landlords Looks Like

If you park your car illegally in New York City, chances are you’ll have a $115 ticket waiting for you when you return.

As we reported in our story on Wednesday, that’s the approach New York state housing regulators are taking against thousands of landlords who broke the law.

In a nutshell, property owners pocketed a tax benefit known as J-51 that requires them to abide by city-set rent limits as long as they receive the tax relief. Twenty years ago, the same housing agency allowed many landlords to get out of that deal, depriving an estimated 50,000 apartments of these rent protections, known as “rent stabilization.”

In January, more than six years after New York’s highest court ruled that this decision was a mistake, New York’s Division of Housing and Community Renewal sent letters to landlords asking them to abide by rent stabilization in the future.

Affected tenants were not directly informed. But the agency says they have nothing to worry about because the letters will spur “voluntary compliance by landlords.”

For anyone wondering how voluntary compliance might play out, the 47-unit apartment building at 945 West End Avenue on the Upper West Side offers a clue.

In May 2014, a tenant at 945 West End Avenue complained to the local Assemblymember, Daniel O’Donnell, about what appeared to be a blatant violation of the law.

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“The landlord has for many years been covered by a J-51 which means that he is not allowed to convert rent-stabilized apartments to market value,” the anonymous complaint said. “He has been making such conversions for many years.”

At O’Donnell’s behest, the Division fired off a tough-sounding letter to the landlord, Paul Bogoni, demanding that he return the apartments to rent stabilization. The approach is substantially similar to the letters the Division is now sending to J-51 landlords throughout New York City.

The August 2014 notice to Bogoni said housing officials were poised “to exercise all rights, remedies, investigations and inquiries” if he did not provide tenants with rent-stabilized leases. The letter did not demand that he roll back rents or refund overcharges. Nor was it shared with tenants, who obtained a copy through O’Donnell’s office.

The result? “Nothing, other than it mobilized the tenants,” said Stephen Townsend, who moved into the building in 2005, when the building’s current J-51 benefit started.

On September 2, 2014, just a couple of weeks after he received the agency’s letter, Bogoni offered a lease without rent stabilization to a new tenant for $4,395 per month, according to copy of the agreement. Bogoni subsequently has provided stabilized leases to tenants, but at the current market rates, Townsend said.

The following year, Bogoni sent Townsend a one-year renewal offer for $5,100 per month, his lease shows. He calculates that because Bogoni didn’t follow the rules, his maximum legal rent under the law should be closer to $962.

A spokeswoman for the Division said because Bogoni has registered his apartments for rent limits going forward, he is in compliance with the terms of the agency’s letter.

Tenants say that’s not nearly good enough. They argue that Bogoni should be required to lower rents to what they would be if he had followed the law.

The spokeswoman for the Division said it’s up to the tenants to make that happen by either filing an overcharge complaint with the agency or through a lawsuit.

Faced with that choice, tenants like the residents of 945 West End Avenue are opting to take their chances in court.

In October 2015, Townsend and several neighbors sued to get Bogoni to reduce rents and pay for overcharges, becoming one of at least eight lawsuits filed by 31 of the building’s tenants. With lawsuits pending, Townsend and many of his neighbors have been withholding rent.

ProPublica sent Bogoni a detailed list of questions but he declined to respond. “We just chose not to answer,” his wife said. In a court filing, Bogoni’s lawyer claimed all aggrieved tenants have been offered refunds where appropriate and rent-stabilized leases as required by law.

Tenants in one apartment have already settled for almost $100,000 in overcharge refunds, plus payment of their attorney’s fees and a 29 percent cut in their rent, according to court documents.

At another building on the Upper West Side, a tenant named Lane Altschuler won an $818,000 rent overcharge complaint against his landlord, Mann Realty Associates, plus 9 percent interest, and a five-fold reduction in rent from $4,040 to a court-ordered proper rent of $784.38.

The dramatic repricing of Altschuler’s 1,500-square-foot apartment next to Central Park prompted the headline “Guy gets insane rent deal on swanky pad after landlord scammed him” in the New York Post. Mann is appealing.

Henry Novoa, a broker for Mann, acknowledges that Altschuler should have been given a rent-stabilized lease but said the new rent — and resulting overcharges — are unjustified.

He was entitled to that lease, but he was not entitled to that rent,” Novoa said. But so far, courts have disagreed and sided with Altschuler.

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BRITAIN: BOE Monetary policy committee discussing a range of options, which include keeping rates on hold or slashing them to zero Guardian reported using #Brexit as the excuse to get consumers borrowing and spending – @AceFinanceNews

#AceFinanceNews – July.10: Bank of England considers interest rate cut to tackle Brexit crisis

Monetary policy committee discussing a range of options, which include keeping rates on hold or slashing them to zero

The Bank of England will consider the first interest rate cut for more than seven years this week, as it seeks to contain the economic fallout from the #Brexit vote.

Some City economists predict that with consumer confidence battered and businesses nervous about spending and hiring, the Bank will want to shore up sentiment by reducing interest rates further from a record low of 0.5%.

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BRITAIN: NATO Summit concludes and Cameron is to finalise purchase from it’s normal chosen supplier Boeing for nine patrol planes and to upgrade Apache helicopters in deal according to sources – @AceNewsServices

#AceFinanceNews – July.10: UK to finalise Boeing patrol plane, helicopter deals – sources

British Prime Minister David Cameron is likely to finalise multi-billion dollar deals with Boeing on Monday to buy nine P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol planes and to upgrade 50 Apache helicopters, two industry sources said on Sunday.

Cameron is expected to announce the deals at the opening of the Farnborough Airshow in southern England.

Spokespeople for the prime minister and Britain’s Ministry of Defence declined to comment….

Editors Notes:

I would remind you that this blog is produced free for the public good and you are welcome to republish or re-use this article or any other material freely anywhere without requesting further permission.

News & Views welcome always published as long as NO bad language or is not related to subject matter.

To keep online information secure, experts recommend keeping your social media accounts private, changing your passwords often, and never answering unsolicited emails or phone calls asking for your personal information. Need help and guidance visit https://acepchelp.wordpress.com and leave a comment

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BRITAIN: Property funds do not want YOU to WITHDRAW YOUR MONEY so the BOE considers changing withdrawal times on your investment Sunday Telegraph reported but ECB denies report though the BOE Deputy governor was elected to FCA just this month – Coincidence ? – @AceFinanceNews

#AceFinanceNews – July.10: Bank of England considers curbs on property funds – Sunday Telegraph

The Bank of England is considering curbs on withdrawals from property investment funds after Britain’s vote to leave the European Union roiled the sector, the Sunday Telegraph newspaper said late on Saturday.

The paper said it understood that the BoE was considering “enforced notice periods before redemptions, slashing the price for investors who rush to the door, or additional liquidity requirements for funds“.

A spokeswoman for the central bank declined to comment on the report, and the newspaper did not give a source for its information.

Andrew Bailey, the head of Britain’s Financial Conduct Authority, told a BoE news conference on Tuesday that the structure of open-ended real estate funds needed to be reviewed, as investors rushed to cash in their investments.

The BoE – where Bailey was deputy governor until he moved to the FCA this month – last year expressed concern about funds that invest in assets which can become illiquid in a crisis, but allow investors to withdraw funds without notice.

On Friday the FCA issued guidance to property funds to avoid disadvantaging investors who had not sought to redeem funds.

The Sunday Telegraph said regulators were considering requiring funds to ask investors to give a notice period of 30 days to six months for redemptions, or to hold more liquid assets to meet withdrawals, such as cash or shares and bonds in property-related companies.

More than six British property funds suspended withdrawals last week to tackle a tide of redemptions after the June 23 vote to leave the EU unnerved investors who are worried that the uncertainty will hit demand to rent and buy commercial property.

(Reporting by David Milliken; Editing by Sandra Maler)

Editors Notes:

I would remind you that this blog is produced free for the public good and you are welcome to republish or re-use this article or any other material freely anywhere without requesting further permission.

News & Views welcome always published as long as NO bad language or is not related to subject matter.

To keep online information secure, experts recommend keeping your social media accounts private, changing your passwords often, and never answering unsolicited emails or phone calls asking for your personal information. Need help and guidance visit https://acepchelp.wordpress.com and leave a comment

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