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

Photo: Susan Fensten
Spooky Backyard Scene on East Fifth Street

This week, native New Yorker Susan Fensten plucks another gem from her father’s outstanding collection of previously-unseen images. The shot in question is a spooky backyard scene captured at Mr. Fensten’s East Fifth Street residence (between First and Second Avenues) in 1984. He worked as a bike messenger and lived in a tiny studio at […]

lafayette-bike-lane
Lafayette Street in the Running to Receive Protected Bike Lane

Primed and paved in the last couple weeks, that fresh layer of asphalt on Lafayette Street will soon gain some green. Yup. A new, safer bike lane is most likely on the way. The DOT threw together a deck describing in detail the plan to install a protected bike lane along the west side of […]

stanton-street-kitchen-awning
‘Stanton Street Kitchen’ Reveals Itself in Former Moldy Fig Space

The Moldy Fig is has been closed for over two years, but its awning and neon sign remained in place. Until this week. Stanton Street Kitchen is happening, and it’s already planted a flag at 178 Stanton Street. Last November, the latest in a string of applicants for this address obtained Community Board 3 approval […]

Min's Market is doomed, Photo: Mike Brown
Min’s Market at Clinton and Houston is Going Out of Business

Min’s Market, the bodega stalwart at the corner of Clinton and East Houston, is going out of business this weekend. Boogie reader Mike Brown relays the info that the reliable grocer is set to close for good on Saturday. A significant rent increase is blamed for their downfall. It’s a substantial footprint. One can only […]

Lexi Bella for Centre-fuge Cycle 4, July 2012
Centre-fuge to Present ‘Heroines of the Lower East Side’ as Part of Inaugural LES History Month

Centre-fuge just released information regarding the forthcoming mural to grace the mid-block DOT trailer on East First Street. Unlike previous installations, though, Cycle 13 will be a solo effort by project alumna Lexi Bella. She is the first artist to do so. Timed to coincide with the inaugural Lower East Side History Month (annually in […]

  • 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!