There are often rumors of landlords cracking down on rent-stabilized tenants who may not be occupying their apartments legally, but rarely do we find out just what "cracking down" means. Apparently, it means hiring private investigators to figure out just who a building's tenants are and whether they can legally be given the boot. The Times goes for a ride-along with a pair of rent-stabilization spies, sleuths from J.T. Mullen Inc.. As they take photos of tenants lingering to smoke outside their downtown Manhattan building?where the private eyes will also root through the trash in search of ConEd bills with residents' real names?they tell stories about some of the tricks they've seen tenants use:
[Mr. Mullen] investigated a Baxter Street building where all of the residents had the same Social Security number. Mr. Williams chimed in about a building where the illegal tenant listed his apartment under the name O. B. Juan KNobi. A lesson in this for any rent-stabilized apartment dwellers whose residential status may be a bit shady: assume your landlord, or his P.I., has seen Star Wars.
· N.Y. Landlords Use Private Eyes to ID Illegal Tenants [NYT]