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AMEN Chelsea!

Posted by Dawn on January 18, 2001 at 13:47:49:

In Reply to: NYT article posted by Chelsea on January 18, 2001 at 12:32:16:

: New York Times
: February 6, 2000

: NEW YORK ON LINE; Where Tenants Find a Haven

: In a city where finding and keeping an apartment can verge on the Kafkaesque, it may be comforting to
: know that a renter-friendly Web site appeared on the scene before there was even an Internet for it to
: call home., which guides visitors through the complexities of renting in New York City,
: started as an electronic bulletin board in 1990 when John Fisher, a computer consultant, decided to use
: the wisdom he had gained as a renter in New York.

: ''I was a tenant who had a nasty landlord,'' he said in a telephone interview. ''Over the years when trying
: to get repairs done and trying not to get overcharged, I collected a lot of information. I figured, why keep
: it to myself?''

: Mr. Fisher's site moved to the Internet in 1994; since then it has grown into a multifaceted resource
: serving everyone from wide-eyed newcomers to hardened veterans. It includes handbooks on zoning and
: rent regulation and information on rent laws and city housing court decisions. A detailed Tenant
: Organizing Manual provides blueprints for anything from forming tenants' associations to fighting
: harassment, and includes a list of agencies and resources that aid tenants.

: The site is more than just an information source, Mr. Fisher said. ''We give out phone numbers for people
: to call, addresses to write letters to; we send out mass e-mailings,'' he said. ''On the Internet a lot of
: people are just figuring out that they can combine local activism with information, but we've been doing it
: for years.''

: WHAT YOU SEE -- Updates on housing law; clippings from local newspapers and journals; articles by
: tenant lawyers and other experts; a database of New York City addresses that lets viewers check a
: specific building's rent regulation status.

: The site includes a forum where tenants exchange ideas on everything from when to legally withhold rent
: to how to bypass ''bloodsucking realtors'' to how to handle intractable sublessees.

: Discussions can turn philosophical, as in one heated debate about profit versus social responsibility for a
: tenant vacating a $131 rent-controlled apartment.

: ''I would not go for less than 40K,'' one subscriber wrote, referring to the amount a landlord will
: sometimes pay a long-term tenant to relinquish a desirable rent-regulated apartment.

: Another responded: ''How about using his leverage to help the next tenant by keeping it rent-stabilized at
: a cheap rent? That would be a sign of true humanity.''

: LINKS -- Related links are interspersed throughout, including links to Mr. Fisher's other sites, among
: them, a similar site for residents of Hell's Kitchen, where Mr. Fisher lives. The site
: also provides information on rental laws elsewhere in the United States and abroad. In addition, it has a
: link to the text of Abbie Hoffman's counterculture classic, ''Steal This Book.''

: WHAT YOU GET -- A comprehensive, up-to-date guide to the ins and outs of renting in the city. At
: times the tone can be hotly partisan, but the information runs deep and wide and the site is replete with
: practical advice. TARA BAHRAMPOUR

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