If you’re a NYC renter there’s a good chance you’ve found yourself wishing there was a better way to hold your shady landlord accountable. Besides the public advocate’s worst landlord list, there aren’t many means to call out landlords who fail to take care of their tenants. That was the whole idea behind the website WhoseYourLandlord.com, which launched in Philly and is now taking root right here in Bed-Stuy.
Ofo Ezeugwu and Felix Addison started the business as students in 2012. It took off in Philadelphia and they made the decision to expand to New York. Their logical homebase was Bedford-Stuyvesant, where Ofo’s grandfather has owned a brownstone on Halsey Street for decades. (Ofo and Felix rent a floor from him. For the record, he’s a good landlord.) While they hope to attract renters throughout New York City to the website, they’re hoping to spread word through the neighborhood first about what this service does.
Essentially, WhoseYourLandlord is like the Yelp of landlords–tenants can leave their review (anonymously or not) to contribute to a database of landlord reviews. Renters, then, are more informed not just on who their landlord actually is–something many New Yorkers don’t even know–but also other tenant’s experiences. The reviews are meant to hold up good landlords as much as they can pressure bad landlords to get their act together before renting to new tenants.
“We want to empower people with knowledge and hopefully encourage and incentive landlords to be better equipped,” Ofo said. Since starting the business he’s identified a gap between residents and landlords and the resulting problems it creates. “One one side of the equation we have tenants with an emotional tie to their apartment, this is their home. On the other side, it’s a business transaction.” He hopes to bridge that gap by increasing communication between landlord and tenant, as well as helping tenants simply come into the renting process better informed.
So, Bed-Stuy renters, go ahead and review your landlord! Landlords also are able to respond to reviews and list apartments on the site.
Take a look: these are some new Bed-Stuy developments that have hit the market in the past week or so. Feel free to debate the insanity of prices in the comment section.
The Dekalb (pictured above)
Location: 740 Dekalb Avenue, between Tompkins and Marcy
Details: 37-unit luxury rental in a new building
Amenities: Landscaped roof deck, virtual doorman system, bike storage, fitness center, resident lounge, billiard room, laundry room, package room and on-site parking
Pricing: One- and two-bedroom no fee apartments start from $2,200/month
Location: 368-370 Gates Avenue, between Nostrand and Bedford
Details: Eight-unit condo in a new brick building. All units have two bedrooms
Amenities: Each apartment comes with a large storage unit and has access to a shared roof deck
Pricing: Four units are up for sale and start at $999,000
Location: 415 Herkimer Street, between Kingston and Albany
Details: A small condo apartments in a new construction building. Many apartments are duplexes, while some come with balconies and private outdoor spaces
Amenities: 15-year tax abatement, onsite bicycle storage, laundry room and video intercom. The penthouse apartment comes with a private roof deck space
Pricing: A one-bedroom, one bathroom apartment starts at $499,000
Earlier this summer I snapped a some photos around MacDonough and Tompkins, where quite a bit of work was going down on a few historic properties. One of my favorite Bed Stuy buildings, the United Order of the Tents mansion at 87 MacDonough Street, has some scaffolding up. There’s a permit out for structural and facade repairs. If you’re not familiar with this gorgeous property, I encourage you to read up on its fascinating history and current owners. Hopefully it’s a job done well — there have been a number of violations issued against previous work here.
75 MacDonough, a landmarked eight-unit apartment building next door, is also getting some TLC. The building was up for sale last year asking $3.2 million and it sold last summer for $3.15 million. This May, the DOB approved permits for exterior work — new paint on the decorative metalwork and fire escapes, as well as re-pointing and repairs to the brick. It’s a striking Renaissance Revival facade (built on 1902) so it’ll be great when the scaffolding comes down to see the improvements.
For a few years now, there’s been talk about the Bed Stuy boom. Development’s going up, buyers are snatching up properties, record prices are being recorded. And here’s one more data point to add to the conversation. For the second sales quarter of 2015, Bed Stuy saw the most home sales activity of all Brooklyn neighborhoods. REBNY released data for the quarter and found sizable average price increases of 9 percent year-over-year in Brooklyn and Queens. Bed Stuy had the most sales of any Brooklyn neighborhood — 183 transactions! — followed by 137 sales in Bay Ridge/Fort Hamilton. The average selling price for Bed Stuy properties is $874K, up 21 percent from last year. The median price is $850K. Condo prices average at $651K, a 15 percent jump from last year. Three-family homes average at $937K, up 25 percent.
Speaking of booms, I snapped this photo of demolition underway at 410 Tompkins Avenue, off of Hancock. The three two-story brick buildings will be replaced by a 35-unit luxury building that looks atrocious. According to signs on the construction fence, demolition will last through August.
An ugly new rental rises in Bed Stuy
Yes, rents are crazy throughout New York City. But they’re even worse in certain neighborhoods — and one of those happens to be Bed Stuy. The NY Daily News reported that Bed Stuy rents have jumped 63 percent since 2002. Talk about depressing: a recent mover who faced a median rent of $921 in 2002 now faces a median rent of $1,500. (I was recently wondering if it was insane that a two-bedroom apartment here costs $2,850. Guess not.) For comparison, rents rose about 32 percent citywide since 2002. In Harlem, there was an insane 90 percent jump.
So where to go if you’re priced out (again)? The Daily News says rents went down in Canarsie by 1 percent, in Bay Ridge by 3 percent and along the South Shore of Staten Island by 5 percent.
More news for the prominent mixed-use building on the corner of Macon and Stuyvesant. (The place where plans for a Thai restaurant fell through, and where a stop work order was issued for work without a permit.) This listing just popped up for the entire property — it’s asking $6.3 million, a very high price indeed. There are seven units total with the ground-floor commercial space. Oddly enough, Streeteasy also shows that three of the apartment units are on the market, with a three bedroom asking $3,295 a month, a two bedroom asking $2,850 a month, and another two bedroom asking $2,595. Are rents really that expensive in this area? Yeesh.
The selling price of the building will really be a test of how much the market’s boomed in the last year — it sold for $2.5 million in 2014.
There’s a great commercial property that’s up for rent on the corner of Stuyvesant Avenue and Macon Street. That immediate area is pretty quiet restaurant-wise so we suspect any type of food business would do very well. A trusted source told us that a Thai restaurant was coming but negotiations went bad. The signage up now suggests that the owners are back to square one, and are also considering retail tenants.
What would you like to see here? And if you have any intel on tenants eyeing this space, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. UPDATE: A stop work order was filed by the DOB in late April due to work without a permit. A commenter also noted that there’s a bar built inside.