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Despicable move by my landlord re: pets..

post #1 of 27
Thread Starter 
I live in a huge housing complex in NYC, probably has more residents than the places where many of you live. The complex is owned by a major national insurance company and acknowledges that it makes money on the complex. The complex was built in the late 1940's to provide more & better housing for servicemen returning from WW2. There are still original tenants here.

The place got major property tax abatements from the city for decades and is part of the rent stabilization system, where NYC controls the annual rent increases allowed for buildings erected before the early 1970's. My landlord recently hired a real estate management company to run the place. Under the city rent laws, if a landlord puts a huge amount of $$ into renovation of a single vacant apartment, around $40,000 for a 2 bedroom apartment, they can remove the apartment from the stabilization controls and ask whatever rent they want to. (Basically, they are providing high end bathroom & kitchen fixtures, and installing airconditioners.) While that seems like a lot of money, they can easily recoup that in 2 years worth of 'free market' rent, because they expect rents to double & triple. (Once out of the rent stabilization system, an apartment never goes back.) They are putting a lot of money into renovating the ground's playgrounds, since while we don't have doormen, we do have nice out door space.They are even putting in bocce ball courts, a highly needed amenity...

For years, this place was one of the mainstays of middle class housing in Manhattan. Their leases forbid pets but they have never enforced that law against any animals but dogs. The dogs usually become a problem because neighbors complain and because the place has extensive internal green spaces which they don't want dogs cr@pping on.

Now, since the key to them making even more money is to get apartments to vacate, they came up with the idea of going after cats as well. At one point (before I got any cats) , there were 7 cats on my floor alone (with only 8 apartments.) There are people who let their cats go outside in a relatively closed off area wearing collars and name tags. For years, our refuse chutes had instructions on them abt disposal of kitty litter. So, it is fair to say that they know that 100's if not 1,000's of cats live here.

Last month, someone in their rental office faxed a memo to a local newspaper written by either the legal department of the insurance company or the real estate management, suggesting that they offer the maintenance people a $150 gift certificate for every pet they report to them, where it successfully results in the current tenant moving. We have tons of elderly people here with cats for companions who could not move if they wanted to, since frankly, on a fixed income in NYC, there are little options. So, they would have to give up their companion cat. It wouldn't surprise me if some of these people, generally elderly women in their 80's & 90's, might kill themselves as an alternative. People are already saying that they won't call for maintenance problems for fear of losing their pet.

Thankfully, NYC has a longstanding law whereby a landlord cannot cause a tenant to get rid of a pet if the tenant has had it for 3 months and the building or its agents (all the maintenance workers, security people etc) knew the pet existed, unless the pet is a danger to life or property. The law was passed to prevent landlords from using the threat of losing their pet to force people to move. (Apartments which are rent stabilized get their biggest increases when apartments vacate, even if the landlord isn't doing the type of improvements I mentioned above.) The release of this memo was probably a good thing, since it is pretty clear this 'bounty' was intended to help the landlord empty out apartments. Fortunately, our local state assemblyman lives in the complex, and he is always at battle with the landlord, since they have asked for large rent increases in the past for building improvements, the cost of which included bogus expenses.

The week after this all came out, the man who is the CEO of the company which makes MeowMix catfood, offered $175 to anyone thinking of turning in someone's pet, if they did NOT turn in the pet.He lives in NYC and said that as a pet food company and pet owner he was disgusted by what the landlord was doing.


What is so upsetting about this is that it would leave people with the alternative of moving, which is difficult, fighting a costly legal battle, or giving up the pet to a shelter, which would probably result in the pet being euthanized. Hopefully, the outing of the memo (the purpose of which seems pretty transparent & thus illegal) will result in them abandoning this idea. Our city council has a bill before it which would make the Pet Law even stronger; I hope this is an impetus to them passing it. I also hope that places like Petco, who have built several superstores in NYC, are making lots of contributions to the city council.

The most ironic thing is that the insurance company which owns this place uses a very famous pet animal as its logo/commercial animal.
post #2 of 27
This is very sad. I know $175 is not a lot of money but could be a life saver for someone but what an appaling way to earn it. You sound like there are a lot of laws where you live to prevent this kind of illigal activity. It makes you want to boycot Meowmix!
Any way you could publicise this strongly? An elderly woman with a small cat is a very good emotional lever!
post #3 of 27
Quote:
We have tons of elderly people here with cats for companions who could not move if they wanted to, since frankly, on a fixed income in NYC, there are little options. So, they would have to give up their companion cat. It wouldn't surprise me if some of these people, generally elderly women in their 80's & 90's, might kill themselves as an alternative.
I'm sure these people have had to face a lot of other personal loss and hardship in their lives over the years. They need to be left alone and don't need to be put through all this crap.
post #4 of 27
One comment: GREED
post #5 of 27
Tulip, I think what Lucia meant (please correct me if I'm wrong) is that Meowmix is offering $175 for them NOT to turn in the animals, to increase the amount the landlords are offering to turn in the animals.

Boy, these people just have no hearts. I do hope that the assemblyman who lives in your complex is willing to go to bat for the residents with the city council. I guess some people will do anything to make more money...
post #6 of 27
Quote:
Originally posted by valanhb
Tulip, I think what Lucia meant (please correct me if I'm wrong) is that Meowmix is offering $175 for them NOT to turn in the animals, to increase the amount the landlords are offering to turn in the animals.
Duh! perhaps I should learn to read things properly
post #7 of 27
Lucia,

Perhaps Mark Kumpf on the guest hosted forum could give you insight about this? And Heidi, I read it too that the CEO of MeowMix upped the ante to turn in pets which doesn't make sense to me, as they are supposed to be about pets, not turning them in. Perhaps I too read it wrong?

How sad for the tenants that live there, to live in fear they will be reported for having a cat.
post #8 of 27
You're both right, that's how it's written. Maybe I'm just an optimist, I don't know...(and I've written enough long posts to know that when you really get going, it doesn't always come out 100% clear...) But, I can't imagine that a cat food company would promote forcing people to get rid of their pets, nor can I imagine upping the "reward" for turning in animals when the owners already offered a pretty good sized one to begin with. What would be the point of offering to pay more for the same thing? Seemed to me that they started a bidding war with the landlords.

Hopefully Lucia will see this soon and can clarify.
post #9 of 27
They had a show on Animal Planet about this recently (within the last week) and they interviewed the guy who is offering the $175 (Pres. of Meow mix).

VEry, very sad!!!

Karen
post #10 of 27
Thread Starter 
On no, the Meow Mix guy is a good guy! He was offering the maintenance people who might think abt turning someone in a higher amount NOT to turn them in! As he said, a) cats are his business and b) who do they bother!

I will have to go back and fix my post; it was misleading.I'm sorry abt that.

I think the release of this memo sufficiently bit them on the a$$ re the plan. Our assembleyman HATES the owners, and makes a stink over everything that they do with the city housing department. So hopefully, this will pass.

As someone said, it is all about greed.
I didn't realize it made it to Animal Planet!
post #11 of 27
That is horrible.
post #12 of 27
My landlord is actually pretty cool. He allows as many pets as you want, with the following rules...

1. You must pay $25.00/month for any animal that is a cat or a dog. This is $25.00/pet.

2. No exotic pets.

3. You don't have to pay anything for small pets or fish.
post #13 of 27
Thread Starter 
I've lived here with just one lock since I moved in more than a dozen years ago: I have a metal door in a metal frame with a deep tongue & groove bolt lock. It would take a professional burglar to pick the lock and it could not be jimmied open (other than by the police with one of those ramming things.) So, it is perfectly safe thief wise, but the landlord has the key. I'm now planning to put in a 2nd lock which I am allowed to do because I have to worry abt them coming in here when I'm not home. That's happened maybe 3 times since I lived here, when they had to look for a leak or something in my apartment line; they leave a note.

I feel the worst for the elderly people, but I think they would fight for their cats. We've got a lot of feisty old Irish & Italian ladies here, many who are immigrants. The night of the lunar eclipse last year, there were 4 of them at least 85 years old standing out in the freezing cold for an hour watching the eclipse with a group of us.
post #14 of 27
Glad the mix up over Meowmix (ouch) got cleared up.
I think sometimes old ladies are VERY underestimated! If you think of what most elderly people have been through - the depression - a world war etc., they can be a lot more feisty than you think and often a force to be reckoned with.
Lucia - not a bad idea to get another lock though - just in case.
post #15 of 27
Quote:
Originally posted by Lucia
For years, our refuse chutes had instructions on them abt disposal of kitty litter. So, it is fair to say that they know that 100's if not 1,000's of cats live here.

Thankfully, NYC has a longstanding law whereby a landlord cannot cause a tenant to get rid of a pet if the tenant has had it for 3 months and the building or its agents (all the maintenance workers, security people etc) knew the pet existed, unless the pet is a danger to life or property. The law was passed to prevent landlords from using the threat of losing their pet to force people to move. (Apartments which are rent stabilized get their biggest increases when apartments vacate, even if the landlord isn't doing the type of improvements I mentioned above.) The release of this memo was probably a good thing, since it is pretty clear this 'bounty' was intended to help the landlord empty out apartments.
We have a similar law here, and the courts uphold it. It might be a good idea to ask around whether anybody has pictures of the old instructions on the refuse chutes. You could also get as many people as possible to sign a statement about the instructions previously being there. A lawyer or the assemblyman should be able to work with that.
post #16 of 27
Shouldn't most of the seniors be safe because of the 3-month rule?

Perhaps all who have pets could vouch for each other?

BTW, Let's hear it for the Meow Mix CEO!
post #17 of 27
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally posted by tuxedokitties
Shouldn't most of the seniors be safe because of the 3-month rule?

Perhaps all who have pets could vouch for each other?

BTW, Let's hear it for the Meow Mix CEO!
Technically, the landlord or their agent is supposed to know that a specific tenant has a specific cat, and then do nothing about it for 3 months. However, the place has clearly had tons of cats for decades w/o them taking action about them (as opposed to dogs.) Some of the people who live on the ground floor off of some of the more enclosed areas have cats that go out thru the windows wearing collars. I've seen tenants walking cats on the grounds. Before they went out of business, our UPS guy told me that he made tons of deliveries here from pets.com.

MeowMix has a car made up to look like a large red cat. I didnt see him, but apparently the CEO drove the car all around the complex the weekend after he made his offer LOL to publicize it.
post #18 of 27
I think there's a law that a companion animal can't be taken away if the person needs it for their mental/physical well-being. A friend of mine just went through this with her landlord, who wanted her to get rid of her cat. So my friend went to her doctor and got a note stating that she needs her cat for these reasons.

Sounds like the MeowMix CEO is one cool guy!
post #19 of 27
Thread Starter 
Those laws vary locally. One of the bills before the city council here now in NYC is similar, that senior citizens should have the right to a companion pet, no matter what the policy of the landlord is.

In the end though, their offering this 'bounty' must backfire, since it is such a clear attempt to harass and maybe cause tenants to move by enforcing something they never did before. The dogs are a different issue because I think that neighbors complain abt other neighbors when they have dogs, because of barking, etc, so they have always removed dogs when aware of them, although I guess there are still some here who are probably small dogs that are paper-trained. You never see dogs outside here.

Belief it or not, up until their recent renovations and hiring of a management company, they had a 'no sunbathing' rule, even though there are a lot of benches and grassy areas. If security saw a 60 year old guy sitting on a bench in the summer catching some rays w/o a shirt on, they would make him put it back on. Now that they want to attract yuppies, sunbathing is a-okay, even on the grass, which we weren't allowed to even walk on before!
post #20 of 27
Lucia, you have a far-above-average grasp of the situation, and seem to be able to deal with a lot of pressure from the "powers that be", so I really hope that you won't give up. Please see this through. What is needed here is somebody who is very erudite, knowledgeable about the current legal situation, and not easily intimidated. I think you fit the bill. Perhaps you need a bad attitude: it's okay if you say "F-that" to idiotic proposals. Go for it!
post #21 of 27
Is there anything we all can do to try to stop this major firm from doing this? I mean could we write letters or something like that?
post #22 of 27
I don't know how things work in your country. Isn't it near voting time. What I would do here is find a local politician who is an animal lover. It is amazing what they can do. But as I say I don't know if that will help you over there. Wish I could help. You sound as if you are certainly fighting it Lucia - Go for It - Good Luck. There are some horrid people who are only interested in money and sometimes they lose.
post #23 of 27
Lucia,

My heart goes out to you. I could never live in a big city again. I moved back to the very small isolated town where I grew up. I work at factory now, but I own my home, (ok, it is a 14 x 50 foot single wide, it has an a 30 by 10 foot addition) but it is mine. I live in the County and I can have as many cats as I want.

Goblin
post #24 of 27
Dear Lucia,

've lived here with just one lock since I moved in more than a dozen years ago: I have a metal door in a metal frame with a deep tongue & groove bolt lock. It would take a professional burglar to pick the lock and it could not be jimmied open (other than by the police with one of those ramming things.)

That is why I can't live in a big city anymore. I live in L.A. with my sister for a year. Our apartment was broken into, at night while we were there. Who knows what would have happened, if I had not been there for my sister. The nightmares did not go away until I came back home for a while. We never locked our house, we couldn't, we had lost the key. Besides there was no need.

Goblin
post #25 of 27
Thread Starter 
I think we are okay right now. As I said in my original message:

"Thankfully, NYC has a longstanding law whereby a landlord cannot cause a tenant to get rid of a pet if the tenant has had it for 3 months and the building or its agents (all the maintenance workers, security people etc) knew the pet existed, unless the pet is a danger to life or property. The law was passed to prevent landlords from using the threat of losing their pet to force people to move. (Apartments which are rent stabilized get their biggest increases when apartments vacate, even if the landlord isn't doing the type of improvements I mentioned above.) The release of this memo was probably a good thing, since it is pretty clear this 'bounty' was intended to help the landlord empty out apartments. Fortunately, our local state assemblyman lives in the complex, and he is always at battle with the landlord, since they have asked for large rent increases in the past for building improvements, the cost of which included bogus expenses."

It would be kind of hard for them to explain how trying to root out cats that they've always allowed by offering a bounty, isn't flat out harassment and a direct violation of the law. There was no report that any maintenance person took them up on the offer, which I gather only lasted through March 31. Plus, they were giving them gift certificates, not $$$, and only if the pet was ultimately removed. Our mantenance people are too stupid, and they cut back on their staffing so much that I doubt they are rushing to ki$$ management's a$$.

Thanks for everyone's support!
post #26 of 27
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Goblin
Dear Lucia,

've lived here with just one lock since I moved in more than a dozen years ago: I have a metal door in a metal frame with a deep tongue & groove bolt lock. It would take a professional burglar to pick the lock and it could not be jimmied open (other than by the police with one of those ramming things.)

That is why I can't live in a big city anymore. I live in L.A. with my sister for a year. Our apartment was broken into, at night while we were there. Who knows what would have happened, if I had not been there for my sister. The nightmares did not go away until I came back home for a while. We never locked our house, we couldn't, we had lost the key. Besides there was no need.

Goblin
It's funny: I would have a hard time living in a house. I live in a high-rise building which is only accessible through the door, because I'm too high up for someone to come through a window and we don't have fire escapes. But I grew up this way in NYC. The first several times I stayed with people in houses, where the bedrooms were on the ground floor or one flight up, I had a hard time falling asleep because I was afraid someone would come through the window, even in very nice suburban neighborhoods. I think that I would need bars like the ones on the Federal Reserve Bank here on my windows to live in a house! I guess it is all in what one gets used to. The birds chirping in the AM annoyed me as well lol. We do have birds in my complex, but not sitting on bushes outside of my window.
post #27 of 27
Dear Lucia,

That is what I missed. The thing is that bird like other animals are territorial. You get to know them.

Goblin
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