Economy > Housing market > Renting >
Tenant > Eviction
Evictions from rented homes
are at their highest level since
Photograph: Paul Clowney/Alamy
Evictions from rented homes
hit record levels in 2014
Homes in England and Wales
being repossessed at a rate of 115 a day,
according to Ministry of Justice
February 2015 15.31 GMT
private renters UK
sign up to a 12-month tenancy
rent court USA
Section 21 notices
– (...) allow landlords to evict a tenant
without having to give
a reason – UK
Even Renters Aren’t Safe
April 13, 2008
The New York Times
By ELIZABETH A. HARRIS
ON a cold evening in March, Desiree Dookhoo was at home in Ozone Park,
Queens, studying for a nursing exam, when she heard someone trying to open her
front door. She demanded to know who was there and threatened to call the
“It’s Richard from the bank,” a voice answered. “Your landlord has lost the
Many renters may believe that they have avoided the chaos of the subprime loan
crisis and the mortgage meltdown simply by renting and not buying, but they may
not be as insulated as they think. Buildings with tenants are going into
foreclosure as well.
“This is a growing problem nationwide,” said Mark Zandi, the chief economist at
Moody’s Economy.com, a research company. “Landlords of all stripes could
potentially get caught up in this very severe downturn.”
“I suspect that it’s going to be more of a problem for lower- to middle-income
markets,” Mr. Zandi added.
Ms. Dookhoo said her landlord had told her that “he wasn’t ready to buy a house
at that point in his life. He just got sidetracked by the bank and told all
these wonderful stories,” about how he could afford a mortgage. Eventually, his
debts caught up to him and the house slipped into foreclosure. “It didn’t work
out for him, unfortunately,” she said.
It has not worked out terribly well for Ms. Dookhoo, either. Her lease expired
last year, so when the property manager appointed by the bank asked her to move
out, she started looking. Now, she and her two children have to find a new place
to live in New York’s expensive and saturated housing market.
The property manager who came knocking on Ms. Dookhoo’s door has not been
forthcoming about which bank he represents. But since he is giving her some time
to look for a new apartment, she decided not to push the issue. He has also said
that he would give her a little money for her moving expenses — an offer known
in the industry as “cash for keys.”
“I’ve got to leave, it’s their house now,” she said.
In New York, a city of renters despite the recent condominium boom, tenants are
particularly at risk. According to census figures for 2006, the most recent year
for which data was available, an estimated 65.6 percent of New York City housing
was renter occupied, as opposed to 32.7 percent nationwide.
“The effects of the subprime crisis and the housing-price crisis are just
different in New York than in many parts of the country,” said Vicki Been, the
director of the Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy at New York
University, citing factors like strong home prices and low homeownership rates.
“The crisis is unfolding more slowly and, I think, it is affecting many more
renter households than it is elsewhere in the country.”
In 1993, during the last big wave of foreclosures in New York City, nearly 6,200
buildings (residential, commercial and mixed-use) began the foreclosure process.
In 2007, the Furman Center estimated that at least 38,000 people facing a
foreclosure in New York City were renters.
The center, analyzing data in New York City from housing court and the county
registrar, estimates that foreclosure proceedings were begun on nearly 15,000
residential or mixed-use buildings last year alone — a majority of them small
buildings with just a few units, and almost all of them in the boroughs outside
of Manhattan. (The center counts a total of about 900,000 buildings with
residential space in the 5 boroughs and some 3.2 million units of housing.)
“The national discussion about foreclosures has largely focused on owners,” Ms.
Been said. “There’s a whole group here that is not being talked about:” renters.
Foreclosures can have an impact on tenants in lots of ways, but there are two
sets of problems that most will face. The first and most daunting is eviction.
The second is a loss of services, which can mean anything from having to fix
your own clogged pipes to losing heat in the winter.
Luis Matute moved into a two-bedroom railroad apartment at the top of a walk-up
in Bushwick, Brooklyn, 13 years ago. Five years later, Nelva Muy joined him when
they were married. Now, the couple, who are from Ecuador, and their 6-year-old
son, Jinson, live in the same apartment, which has become plagued with cracks
Two years ago, the person who collected the rent every month stopped showing up.
Mr. Matute and Ms. Muy have not paid rent since, though they have been saving
their rent money of $575 a month.
Michael Grinthal, a lawyer at South Brooklyn Legal Services’ housing unit, said
that putting rent money in a bank account is a good way for tenants to protect
themselves from lawsuits or eviction if a court decides that the landlord or new
owner is entitled to unpaid back rent.
In a sense, however, Mr. Matute and Ms. Muy are getting what they pay for.
Since their landlord disappeared, they have grappled with everything from a
crumbling roof to lapsed utility bills. They have pitched in with their
neighbors to pay some of the bills and make repairs to try to keep their
“I did the best I could,” Mr. Matute said.
“We do everything in the building,” Ms. Muy added. (They both spoke in Spanish,
through an interpreter.)
Despite their efforts, worsening conditions landed their home on the city’s list
of the 200 worst residential buildings in the five boroughs, which was released
Since then, the Department of Housing Preservation and Development has made
$70,000 worth of repairs — and still when it rains they put a bowl in their
living room to collect the leaking raindrops.
With their lease expired and the future of the building uncertain, the family
doesn’t know if a move is in the offing.
They have the cushion of saved rent, but finding housing that is affordable
long-term will be a challenge. Mr. Matute earns $11 per hour working in a lumber
warehouse, and Ms. Muy recently lost her job in a clothing factory. They know
their rent could easily double if they moved to another apartment in their
“We want to stay here,” Ms. Muy said. “This is our home. I would like to know,
if I have to move out.”
Other renters are forced out of their apartments because of worsening
According to Neill Coleman, a spokesman for the Department of Housing
Preservation and Development, residents who find themselves without essential
services like heat, water or gas can ask the city for help by calling 311.
“H.P.D. will make emergency repairs if necessary (that could include delivery of
oil for the boiler or picking up the electricity account),” he wrote in an
This winter, the heat went out in Yolanda Feliciano’s apartment in the Bronx.
More than two months later, it was still not working. Her landlord defaulted on
her mortgage and left this problem to her tenants.
Ms. Feliciano contacted the city several weeks ago. Mr. Coleman said that a case
had been brought against the landlord in housing court and that the department
officials had tried to turn the heat on twice but they could not get into the
building. He invited Ms. Feliciano to schedule a time for them to come by again.
For the time being, Ms. Feliciano is staying with friends and has sent her two
children to live with their father. She said a potential buyer was interested in
the building, and has told her that she can stay on as a tenant.
William Carbine, an assistant commissioner for neighborhood preservation at the
Department of Housing Preservation and Development, said that there had been a
program in place since 2005, called PACE, to help homeowners with mortgage
troubles. But the program was intended to help victims of predatory lending, and
hasn’t been able to keep up with problems caused by the subprime crisis.
“Subprime really overwhelmed what was available,” he said.
Mr. Carbine cited a range of problems brought on the city by the housing crisis,
ranging from neighborhood destabilization to speculative construction that has
left buildings standing empty. To address them, he said, the city is creating
the Center For New York City Neighborhoods, which provides resources like
counseling and legal services citywide.
The city does not have a tenant program, the hope being that if you help the
owner, the tenant will also be taken care of. Renters, however, can call for
By the time the city gets involved, it might be too late the help the landlord.
And some owners simply walk away from buildings that they can no longer afford.
Carmelo Casiano and his mother, Gregoria, have been living in the same building
on Dekalb Avenue in Bushwick, Brooklyn, since Mr. Casiano got a divorce more
than 20 years ago.
Their landlord disappeared some five years ago, and eventually the building went
into foreclosure. Since then, it has fallen into disrepair, losing everything
from heat to pieces of the ceiling.
Late last year, Sister Kathleen Maire of the Bushwick Housing Independence
Project, began helping the Casianos and their neighbors sort out the legal and
physical mess of their building.
She is helping them apply for “7A” status, under which a court-appointed
caretaker collects rent and administers an abandoned building. The rent goes
toward utilities and repairs. If their building is sold instead, they may well
have to move.
Sister Maire says she thinks that the city housing department makes an effort to
respond to complaints and keep people’s apartments safe, but “they just don’t
have the staff.”
When the landlord leaves, she added, “What it does, is put a terrible burden on
Even Renters Aren’t
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