Bronx Judge Temporarily Blocks 65% Rent Hike

A Bronx judge recently postponed a controversial rent hike planned for the Tracey Towers housing complex. The complex was built in 1974 through the Mitchell-Lama affordable housing program. According to statements made by the tenant organization president, the tenants regularly deal with heat and hot water problems, broken elevators, and rodents, and they allege that the owner has neglected the complex despite receiving $4 million in city loans.

A rent increase of 65 percent over four years was slated to take effect on Sept. 1, following its approval last month by city housing officials. And property owner Tracey Towers Associates claims the hike is needed to pay for repairs. But tenants at the 869-unit complex argued they can't afford the steep rent increase. The owner insists, however, that the complex can no longer operate with current rents. The last hike was six years ago, and fuel costs have soared. The owner has never been able to pay its mortgage and claims it has never turned a profit.fraud

The tenants sued the owner and the city, and were able to secure a temporary victory or postponement until a different judge decides whether the increase is legal. The plan approved by the city Department of Housing Preservation and Development calls for a 16 percent increase now, followed by increases in 2013, 2014, and 2015.

HPD has said the rent increase will allow the owners to pay off a new $40 million loan for repairs. The complex will get a new roof and boiler and renovated kitchens and bathrooms.