Saga at 143 Ludlow: Converting Apartment Numbers to Erase Rent History

Posted on: November 27th, 2012 at 6:09 am by

143 Ludlow Street is a textbook example of how some landlords try to deregulate buildings for the purposes of luxury conversion. You’ll recall that new owner Samy Mahfar purchased the six-story tenement over the summer and is purportedly amidst such a changeover, resulting in a hellish situation for about eight holdout tenants. Notwithstanding the negligent asbestos cleanup, questionable interior demolition tactics, collapsed ceilings, and suspected DOB shenanigans, there’s also more subtle action at play to help expedite market rents for newly vacated units. Sly would be the appropriate word here, really.

Something so seemingly innocent as changing the apartment numbers, which, we are told, recently transpired inside 143 Ludlow, actually carries overreaching repercussions. By allegedly fudging the address system, the rent history of that particular apartment is essentially erased. Moreover, the Division of Housing and Community Renewal (“DHCR“) has no way of tracking the shift, so when a new tenant checks said history of their new digs, the updated number is not completely in the system. Market rate then follows.

For instance, say someone moves into #21 – now 6A – which previously carried $500 rent. The maximum increase is the 20% vacancy and then some tiny percentage for each year over 8 years – maybe 5% max. In this scenario, that brings the rent to $625-ish for the next tenant, unless there are improvements. To raise the rent to the $2,500 threshold for destabilization, landlords would need to put enough in it to raise the rent $1,875 legally. If there were improvements while the apartment was vacant, the landlord of a twenty-unit building can apply an additional adjustment of 1/40 the costs.

Therefore, to obtain such a large increase toward deregulation, there would need to be upward of $75,000 in costs (40 x 1875). No such estimate resides with DOB for any renovations at 143 Ludlow. So altering the door number effectively eliminates the issue completely, and a new occupant would have no idea. DHCA records would only go back a year for 6A.

Here is the conversion grid of apartment units by floor at 143 Ludlow. Be sure to check the rent history!

2 = not marked

3 = 2a
4 = 2b
5 = 2c
6 = 2d

7 = 3a
8 = 3b
9 = 3c
10 = 3d

11 = 4a
12 = 4b
13 = 4c
14 = 4d

15 = 5c
16 = 5d
17 = 5a
18 = 5b

19 = 6c
20 = 6d
21 = 6a
22 = 6b

This shady tactic is not exclusive to 143 Ludlow, but the building is simply a microcosm of a larger problem on the Lower East Side as whole. The systematic deregulation of so-called affordable housing.

Have any similar stories? Drop us a line and tell us!

Further reading:

NYC Rent Guidelines Board
DHCA website

Recent Stories

emm-bowery-neons-1
EMM Group Accepts $25k SLA Plea Deal; Birnbaum Says ‘The Bowery has Been a Disaster’

EMM Group got off the hook yesterday with a mere slap on the wrist for its transgressions at 199 Bowery. Spare the rod, spoil the child. A Boogie reader was in attendance and submitted the following dispatch. As predicted, the SLA yesterday accepted EMM Group’s guilty plea on all the charges brought against them at 199 […]

Thompson LES is now "60 LES"
SIXTY Hotels Rebrands the Thompson LES on Allen Street

The Thompson LES completely changed its image within the last few months. As we reported, Jason Pomeranc sold his longtime brand but kept ownership over a few hotels, including 190 Allen Street. It’s now part of the SIXTY Hotels umbrella. And with the “SIXTY LES” rebrand, a new target demographic. For this five-year-old lodge, Pomeranc […]

Cafe Katja is pissed, but passively so
Cafe Katja Klepto Returns Stolen Table

That Cafe Katja klepto exposed at the end of March came clean, and returned the stolen table to the popular Austrian eatery. Guess the flyer campaign around Orchard Street – and its coverage in the press – was enough to shame the thief into doing the right thing. A Boogie tipster tells us that the […]

dna-footwear-lafayette
DNA Footwear Opening Outpost at 273 Lafayette Street

Argentinian luxury clothing chain Etiqueta Negra opened its New York City flagship at 273 Lafayette Street in 2008. The boutique boasted a showroom of menswear and rustic store additions like 1932 Alfa Romeo, leather trunks, and polo memorabilia. Five years later, it bit the dust. Now the space is set to become a shoe warehouse. […]

hummus-shop-ludlow
Own a Piece of the Ludlow Residence Eyesore for $220K

Has it really been two years since our last post about the Ludlow Residence dorm at 101 Ludlow? Okay, onward. If you fancy a piece of the beige penitentiary, the opportune moment has arrived. The narrow, 800 square-foot commercial unit near the dorm entrance – currently home to the Hummus Shop – is now on […]

  • Prophet

    Thank you for doing this. Public record.
    I unfortunately pay an inflated market rent but we need those regulated ones to exist.

  • Disgusted

    Isn’t this scheme illegal? shouldn’t this awful landlord be reported? Also, he’s a Board member on the LES BID

  • jaysora

    It will be great when someone is awarded treble damages for overcharges for Apt. 2 (soon to be 1a). Rent will have gone from $350 to $2500 — how? Gold plating a 2 room studio?

  • M Moore

    Postcards will be mailed to all the new tenants in about a year (but no later) explaning what has transpired with the destablized rents with instructions how the new occupant can challenge the charged rent and win. Old tenants leases from the Arwen Equities days? We got em!