THE REAL DEAL covered a talk by lawyer Michelle Maratto Itkowitz on how to “de-tenant” occupied and rent-stabilized buildings:
So in the post-Croman, post-amended housing code era, what’s a tenant-tossing landlord to do?
Demolish, baby, demolish.
“Now let’s talk about about something that actually moves tenants out of the way if you have to get to that point,” said Itkowitz, transitioning from don’ts to dos. “Demolition eviction, page 23,” she prompted, referencing a pamphlet that accompanied her speech.
A line in the rent-stabilization law allows landlords to deny tenants’ renewals on leases at stabilized apartments if the landlord can show the state they have approved new building plans, the money to complete them, and agree to pay tenants relocation expenses and a stipend.
Currently, many landlords try to evict tenants and clear a building before proceeding with demolition and development plans, she said. But if landlords would just bite the bullet and get all of that filed up-front, they’d have an easier time getting tenants out.
That got the audience talking.
“So can you do demolition eviction and then evict the tenants and then not demolish the building?” asked one man in attendance.
“There’s nothing in there I can see that penalizes you for not demolishing the building,” Itkowitz replied. This bait-and-switch technique is probably fair game, excepting that a “nasty person with a grudge” tried to take you to court over it after the fact, she said.