What You Can Do

Read the following Tenant Alliance website (now offline but more info archived here), for very good extremely pertinent information to the reputation of Croman Real Estate / 9300 Realty.

Citations from the above page below (substitute Croman for Shalom):


Why Should You Be Concerned?

The Shaloms purchase relatively "cheap" rent-regulated buildings then apply a variety of tactics to get the existing tenants out, accelerate turnover, and rapidly deregulate apartments. During the first few years, building maintenance and services decline dramatically and the Shaloms aggressively go after the easiest targets, including illegal sublets, non-primary tenancies, and illegal aliens, as well as tenants who don't know their rights and those willing to accept paltry buyout offers. Other favorites are "clutter" cases, unauthorized pets, and alterations. Vacated apartments are gut-renovated and registered with "legal" rents just within reach of "luxury decontrol." Once construction begins, it is nonstop. New stories are added, apartments are combined and partitioned, and courtyards and apartments are transformed into commercial spaces, often without regard to zoning laws or building codes. New tenants are given partial-term leases and/or rent discounts ("preferential rents") that are revoked at lease renewal time, forcing the tenants to move. Previously stable apartment communities are transformed into dormitories. Since the landlord gets an 18% rent increase with each vacancy, it doesn't take long before all or most apartments are deregulated. The Shaloms have displaced thousands of residential tenants, destroyed dozens of small business owners, and devastated communities citywide.


How Can You Protect Yourself?

The Shaloms' goal is to get you out, and they count on you not knowing your rights and/or giving up. Keeping your apartment and preserving your rights will require vigilance and persistence. You must know your rights and be prepared to defend them. Also, be a good neighbor! Look out for your elderly and disabled neighbors, as they will be especially vulnerable to the Shaloms' tactics.

Gird Yourself for Battle!

  1. Get your apartment's rent history by calling DHCR's RentInfo Line: 718-739-6400.
  2. Make sure you have your original lease in a safe place.
  3. Participate actively in the Shalom Tenants Alliance.
  4. Organize a tenant association in your building.
  5. Document everything: keep a journal, take photos of all problem conditions, and keep copies of all letters and notices from the landlord.
  6. During heating months, keep a heat log.
  7. When you pay your rent, send it via Certified Mail. Always request a written receipt.
  8. Make sure all communications with the landlord, including repair requests, are documented in writing and sent to the landlord via Certified Mail.
  9. Always have a witness if the landlord or his agent enters your apartment.
  10. If (when) the landlord fails to provide maintenance or repairs, call 3-1-1 to file complaints. Keep a log of the dates, times, and complaint numbers.


"If I Just Keep to Myself, Won't the Shaloms Leave Me Alone?"

Many tenants believe if they don't call attention to themselves, they'll be okay. It doesn't work that way -- in fact, the opposite is true. You will have the greatest chances of surviving the Shalom takeover if you report and document every problem, join forces with other tenants, and refuse to let the landlord get away with anything. You'll keep your apartment only if you fight for it.


What to Expect

Reports from Shalom tenants citywide have revealed a pattern of "standard" tactics the Shaloms use when they take over a building. Following is a brief overview of what to expect.

Apartment Inspections

Almost immediately after they purchase your building, the Shaloms will show up in person demanding access to your apartment for an "inspection." Usually they will demand that you show identification. They do this to intimidate you and to find reasons to evict you. They are looking for illegal sublets, pets, clutter, and alterations. Remember:

  • In New York City, owners may enter a tenant's apartment for three general reasons: emergency repairs, non-emergency repairs or improvements, and apartment inspections. Emergency repair requires no advance notice to the tenant. However, access for non-emergency repairs and improvements requires a minimum of one week's advance written notice, and access for inspection requires a minimum of 24 hours advance written notice.
  • You should NEVER admit a stranger into your apartment (or your building). Request ID and written authorization from your landlord.
  • The landlord does not have a right to photograph you or your possessions in your apartment without your permission.
  • You should ALWAYS have at least one witness when any agent of the landlord enters your apartment, including repairmen.
  • You have a right to take photographs and make audio recordings of anyone or anything inside your own apartment.


Tenant Information Sheets

The Shaloms will also ask you to fill out a Tenant Information Sheet asking for all kinds of personal information. The Shaloms do this in order to find illegal sublets, non-primary tenancies, and unauthorized pets, and other details they can use to investigate you. Remember:

  • The landlord only has the right to know the names of the people living in the apartment other than the primary tenant, whether the other occupants are family members, and if any occupant is a senior citizen or disabled person. The landlord may request this information no more than once every 12 months.
  • In addition, the landlord is required to ask, once per year, if any children reside in the apartment in order to comply with local laws concerning window guards and lead paint.


Building Services

Almost immediately after the Shaloms take over, building conditions decline rapidly. If you have a live-in superintendent, he or she will no longer be allowed to maintain the building as s/he did in the past. Garbage will pile up, the floors will not be cleaned, the boiler will shut down frequently, heat will be inadequate, intercoms will often be out of order, vermin will infest the building, and more. In due course, the superintendent will be removed from the building altogether. Remember:

  • Notify the landlord in writing, via Certified Mail, of all maintenance and repair issues.
  • Take photographs.
  • Call 3-1-1 to file complaints.


Construction

Construction will begin immediately. There will be an initial exodus of tenants, and their apartments will be gut-renovated in order to maximize vacancy rent increases. This will continue until all apartments are renovated. The Shaloms may also alter the building, such as by adding stories or expanding into your courtyard. The work they do is often dangerous to tenants. They have removed fire escapes and structural elements, caused floods and electrical fires, compromised ventilation, and worse. Remember:

  • The landlord is required to file plans with the Department of Buildings (DOB) and obtain construction permits for renovations that involve structural changes, electrical work, or plumbing.
  • If construction permits are not posted in plain view, call 3-1-1 and file a complaint. Keep filing complaints until an inspector writes a violation.
  • Construction can be done only on weekdays between 8am and 6pm. If you see or hear construction after hours or on weekends, call 3-1-1 and file complaints.


Vacancy Leases & Rent Discounts

The Shaloms often offer new tenants partial-term leases and rent discounts, fail to provide the mandatory Rent Stabilized Lease Rider that explains tenants' rights and details how the rent was calculated, and require the tenant to pay more than one month's rent as a security deposit. When lease renewal time comes around, the rent discount is revoked. Remember:

  • Lease terms for regulated apartments are one-year or two-years. A lease with a term of 13 months is a two-year lease.
  • The law prohibits the landlord from charging more than one month's rent as a security deposit.
  • If you did not receive the mandatory lease rider, demand it from the landlord.
  • The landlord is allowed to revoke a preferential rent. Buyer beware.
  • The landlord may have registered a fraudulent rent. Get your rent history from DHCR (718-739-6400) to find out.

Renewal Leases

The law requires the landlord to offer you a renewal lease, with annual increase amounts set by the Rent Guidelines Board. (If you have a rent discount, the increase will be based upon the higher registered rent.) The landlord must send you the renewal form, along with the mandatory Rent Stabilized Rider, at least 90 days before your current lease ends. You have 60 days to sign and return it, and the landlord must return the fully executed lease (signed and dated) to you within 30 days. The Shaloms tend to flout these requirements. Remember:

  • If the landlord does not offer you a renewal lease, your old lease remains in effect.

  • Rent Stabilization Code § 2523.5 (c) (1) Where the owner fails to timely offer a renewal lease or rental agreement in accordance with subdivision (a) of this section, the one- or two-year lease term selected by the tenant shall commence at the tenant's option, either (i) on the date a renewal lease would have commenced had a timely offer been made, or (ii) on the first rent payment date occurring no less than 90 days after the date that the owner does offer the lease to the tenant. In either event, the effective date of the increased rent under the renewal lease shall commence on the first rent payment date occurring no less than 90 days after such offer is made by the owner, and the guidelines rate applicable shall be no greater than the rate in effect on the commencement date of the lease for which a timely offer should have been made.


Illegal Riders

If you receive a "Rider on Mold" (view PDF) or similar rider with your renewal lease offer, do not sign it. Remember:

  • It is illegal for the landlord to change the terms of your original lease.


Rent Payments & Receipts

The Shaloms play games with rent payments -- such as claiming not to have received a check, not cashing rent checks for a long time, or adding late fees, balances forward, and other charges without explanation. These tactics intimidate tenants and may be used against the tenant in a nonpayment case. Be aware that the landlord is hoping you will spend your rent money and not be able to pay your rent upon demand. Remember:

  • Always send your rent via Certified Mail and request a written receipt.
  • In addition to using Certified Mail, you may want to use money orders instead of personal checks. This way you have a receipt for the money, you won't risk spending the money on something else, and if the landlord does not cash the money order before it expires, you can get the money back (at which point it's his problem, not yours).
  • The terms of your lease, not the landlord's "general policies," dictate whether or not you can be charged late fees.
  • When "mystery charges" appear on your rent bill, send a letter to the landlord, via Certified Mail, requesting an explanation.
  • Real Property Law § 235-e Landlords must provide tenants with a written receipt when rent is paid in cash, a money order, a cashier's check or in any form other than personal check of a tenant. Where a tenant pays the rent by personal check, (s)he may request in writing a rent receipt from the landlord. The receipt must state the payment date, the amount, the period for which the rent was paid, and the apartment number. The receipt must be signed by the person receiving the payment and state his or her title.


"Notices to Cure" and Litigation

Some Shalom tenants find they are not receiving the usual rent bill, their rent checks are not being cashed, and/or they don't receive their renewal lease as expected. These are the first clues the landlord is plotting litigation. At some point, these tenants receive letters threatening eviction proceedings. The most common issues are "clutter," pets, non-primary residency, illusory tenancy, illegal sublets, and unauthorized alterations. Remember:

  • As a rent regulated tenant, you cannot be evicted without a court order.
  • If the landlord does not cash your rent checks, DO NOT SPEND THE MONEY! Sooner or later the landlord will demand payment, and if you don't have the money, you can be evicted for non-payment.
  • If you find yourself in court, hire a lawyer who only represents tenants. Yes, hiring a lawyer costs money, but it will be less costly than losing your apartment and being forced to find a new apartment, paying market rent, and losing your rights as a regulated tenant.


Buyouts

Often the Shaloms will offer a tenants money to move out of their apartments. If you receive a buyout offer, DO THE MATH. It is almost impossible to find a reasonably priced, rent-regulated apartment these days. Find out how much an apartment exactly like your current one goes for. On top of that, add a broker's fee (about 20% of the annual rent), moving expenses, and utilities setup fees. Decide how much your rights as a regulated tenant are worth in cash, because you will have very few rights as a market rate tenant. Figure out how much more the new apartment will cost you over the course of, say, five or ten years. That's your buyout bottom line. Try our Buyout Calculator to see for yourself!


Dealing with City and State Agencies

Unfortunately, in order to deal with bad landlords, Shalom tenants must also deal with city and state agencies. Some agencies are more helpful than others, and Shalom tenants are gradually getting better results as the agencies become more familiar with our plight and the Shaloms' tactics. Here are some tips:


In General . . .

  • Don't expect inspectors to show up and write a violation just because you filed a complaint. You will have to call again and again and again. It usually takes about five complaints before an inspector shows up, and ten to twenty complaints before a violation is served.
  • Don't expect the landlord to correct a problem just because a violation was served. Occasionally the Shaloms will correct a violation. However, they are more likely to (a) ignore the violation, (b) file a certification stating they have corrected the problem, whether they have or not, or (c) start calling you on the phone and sending you certified letters demanding all-day appointments to "inspect" the problem. It is up to you to stick with it, stay informed about the status of violations (see next bullet point), keep calling in complaints as needed, and yes, to provide access to the landlord as required.
  • Make a point of checking the status of complaints and violations in your building on a regular basis. You can use the "Ohebshalom Property Lookup" tool on this site or the links at the bottom of your building's detail page for quick access to DOB and HPD information.
  • Also make sure to check the housing court data for your building using the lookup tools on this site.
  • Be sure to keep your own records (complaint logs, printouts, PDFs, text lists, or spreadsheets). DOB maintains a record of all complaints and violations. HPD does not provide a public record of complaints and erases violations after they are "resolved." Housing court only shows cases currently on the docket.


Calling 3-1-1

  • Usually the 3-1-1 operator will know which agency to connect you with, but not always. If they send you to the wrong place, try again. Don't give up.
  • ALWAYS write down your complaint number, the date and time you called, the nature of your complaint, and the name of the person who took your complaint.
  • HPD will send you a written acknowledgment. Make sure to open these and read them! Sometimes they contain notifications that the landlord has claimed to have corrected the violation, and you have only a few days to challenge the claim.


NYC Department of Buildings (DOB)

  • DOB deals with the physical structure of the building, especially construction.
  • Call 3-1-1 to file complaints with DOB.
  • In general, DOB inspectors will err in favor of the landlord. If a problem isn't obvious, they won't write a violation. Don't give up. Keep filing complaints until a violation is issued.
  • Inspectors will not come to your building unless YOU file a complaint. Don't wait until your ceiling collapses or your gas lines are cut.


NYC Department of Housing Preservation & Development (HPD)

  • HPD's job is to make sure the building is fit for human habitation.
  • Call 3-1-1 to file complaints with HPD.
  • HPD is actively cracking down on the Shaloms. However, some inspectors are more diligent than others. Keep filing complaints


NY State Division of Housing and Community Renewal (DHCR)

  • DHCR is responsible for enforcing the Rent Stabilization Code, which deals with leases, rents, and required services in rent stabilized and rent controlled apartments. It also handles harassment complaints.
  • In general, it appears DHCR's primary goal is to ensure landlords collect rent increases, no matter what. Even so, tenants occasionally prevail. Only a judge or DHCR can order rent reductions for reduced services.
  • To file a complaint with DHCR, you will need to fill out the proper forms, make copies, and mail them. You can get the forms from DHCR's website or by calling the RentInfo Line: 718-739-6400.


Use All Resources Available to You!

Don't struggle through this alone -- many individuals and organizations are eager to help you. Reach out to them!

  • The Shalom Tenants Alliance represents Shalom tenants citywide. We hold regular meetings, organize group actions (such as group filing of harassment complaints), lobby elected officials, and trigger investigations by city and state agencies. Power in numbers!
  • Your elected representatives in City Council, the State Assembly, and the State Senate are, more than likely, already working with the Shalom Tenants Alliance and enthusiastic about helping you.
  • Your community board may be able to help you fight the Shaloms' undermining of communities and address problems with commercial tenants that are bound to arise.
  • Tenant advocacy groups abound! Reach out to Metropolitan Council on Housing, Cooper Square Committee, Tenants and Neighbors, Housing Here and Now, GOLES (Good Old Lower East Side) . . . the list goes on.
  • Your neighbors are extremely important allies. Organize a tenant association in your building and hook up with your block association.