Please note that the tenants responsible for this page are in no way affiliated with the AntiCastleBraid or Castle Braid twitter accounts. Most tenants believe these accounts are trolls, so take from that what you will.
We are a group of tenants who love our building and its community. Many of us were drawn to CastleBraid’s communal vibe, extensive list of amenities, and the aesthetics of the building itself. Over the years, however, we have watched CastleBraid devolve into a place of censorship, deception and illegal activity on behalf of its management. We hope to change CastleBraid for the better by coming together to keep management honest.
Let’s start with some general issues:
CastleBraid has overcharged its tenants by an average of $420 in gas bills — a yearly profit for management of nearly $60,000. Amenities in a state of habitual disrepair (internet, car gate, elevators, gym equipment and laundry machines, to name a few) are ignored; passed over for superfluous changes to the building’s facade or the commissioning of unnecessary “functional art.” Many tenants have not had their security deposits returned after leaving, and several new tenants have been made to pay close to $1000 for management’s decision to make alterations to their new apartment (usually a wall that was built for a previous tenant to add a room to an apartment.)
After a number of tenant complaints made on CastleBraid’s in-house social networking site, management began censoring the site extensively. Posts involving tenant concerns or complaints are removed unless the posts agree with management’s own position on a given subject. Lack of sufficient, professional security has led to several apartment break-ins. Any attempts made by burglarized tenants to warn their neighbors and ask for witness were censored by management who removed posters in the lobby and any comments made on the website.
Issues with Rent Stabilization:
Perhaps the most egregious behavior of CastleBraid’s management is their blatant disregard of rent stabilization laws. CastleBraid is part of New York City’s 421-A tax exemption program and will receive a total benefit of 2.5 million dollars over the course of 25 years. In order to receive these benefits, CastleBraid must follow all rent stabilization laws. Unfortunately, CastleBraid has done neither of these. In fact, tenants were never informed of CastleBraid’s rent stabilized (RS) status and their rights have been denied by management for several years.
For instance, RS tenants must be given rent stabilized riders, the 421-A rider, and DHCR unit registration forms with every lease. These are documents we have never seen.
If a tenant continues to live in CastleBraid for another lease term, we must be given the RTP-8 renewal form. Rent cannot be raised (even by the legally instituted amount decided upon yearly by the Rent Guideline Board) until this renewal form has been filled out and the increase approved by the DHCR. Moreover, the terms of the renewal must be the same or better for the tenant than those in the original lease agreement. However, CastleBraid has consistently raised rent without renewals and changed original lease terms to benefit the building.
CastleBraid has included misleading riders in leases that “protect” management from having to maintain amenities. Any riders that state amenities are not included in our rent and may be taken away at any time are invalid. Services such as a front desk secretarial service, recreational facilities, and cable/internet are checked off on CastleBraid’s Initial Building Services Registration with the DHCR, are included in rent and must be provided. Yet, the following amenities existed when the building became stabilized and have either decreased considerably in quality or have been removed all together:
- Library; inaccessible and unusable due to internet speed
- Day and night front desk secretarial: only night staff remains
- High speed internet; unusable due to speed
- Digital Media Lab; software programs inaccessible
- Rentable Video Equipment; no longer exists
- Yoga Studio: closed
These are only the amenities which once existed, there are several others that were promised and never fulfilled.
International tenants have been charged security deposits up to six months rent, five times more than the legal amount. Security deposits must be placed in an interest bearing account and the bank details must be given to the tenant. This information has been withheld from all tenants in CastleBraid.
Tenants have been charged late rent fees up to $200, well over the legal limit — 5% of monthly rent.
Management has refused to repair some apartment appliances (ie. dishwashers) and has charged fees for tenants locked out of their apartments. Both of these actions are illegal.
Issues with the press:
To paint an even clearer picture of CastleBraid’s behavior, we’d like to point out some of the inconsistencies between the image CastleBraid presents to the public and the reality of its tenants.
In a 2010 New York Times article entitled, “An Artful Way to Rent Apartments,” great attention is given to CastleBraid’s amenities, the prize for CastleBraid’s short film festival of 6 months free rent, and Mayer Schwartz’s plans for additional amenities.
- As mentioned before, the building has not offered rental video equipment in well over a year, the lending library has been inaccessible for nearly a year (largely due to unusable internet upon which it relies for cataloging), and the social networking site has been completely censored since the article was published
- The planned additions of a kiln, metalshop and coffee bar were pure fiction
- Jason Madera, winner of CastleBraid’s short film festival, was told the prize of 6 months free rent only applied to tenants living in duplexes and not Jason’s own one bedroom unit. In order to obtain his winnings, Jason had to sign away any rights to the prize based on the initial terms of the contest and create an additional 8 films for Mayer Schwartz
It is no wonder CastleBraid has been accused of using art and amenities as “a ploy to sell apartments”.