Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Sunday, April 13, 2021

A well-recognized scenario from the subprime lending meltdown: The property owner rents out the acquired residence, looking at this income to wholly or partially cover the mortgage payments. But when that doesn’t work out and the bank forecloses, the renters left behind can linger for years before the eviction notice arrives.

Foreclosures can have an impact on tenants in lots of ways, but there are two sets of problems that most will face. The first and most daunting is eviction. The second is a loss of services, which can mean anything from having to fix your own clogged pipes to losing heat in the winter.

Luis Matute moved into a two-bedroom railroad apartment at the top of a walk-up in Bushwick, Brooklyn, 13 years ago. Five years later, Nelva Muy joined him when they were married. Now, the couple, who are from Ecuador, and their 6-year-old son, Jinson, live in the same apartment, which has become plagued with cracks and leaks.

Two years ago, the person who collected the rent every month stopped showing up. Mr. Matute and Ms. Muy have not paid rent since, though they have been saving their rent money of $575 a month.

I’m no legal expert, but the situations described in the article — where landlords disappear and the tenants wind up living rent-free for years — make me wonder if a case for squatters rights doesn’t apply.

It can be pretty hard to establish those rights, as they have to be based upon “adverse possession” criteria, and technically a tenant agreement precludes that. But when the residents wind up being responsible for the upkeep on the property — making significant structural repairs — that indicates a shift in responsibility for an abandoned property. Indeed, it’s preferable for neighborhoods and cities to have these houses occupied by actual residents, versus having them cleared out and then vulnerable to transients and crackheads breaking in (which has happened in other foreclosure-hit areas of the U.S.).

True, the foreclosing bank gets ownership when the landlord bails, so such properties technically don’t slide into a legal limbo. But banks are notorious for neglecting their foreclosed houses — they generally don’t want the headache, they just want a monetary return on their bad investments. I’d imagine they would sign off on a squatter solution if they were given a minimal payment to simply walk away; that’s something that governmental assistance could facilitate.

The missing ingredient here is tenure. Most adverse possession laws, including that for New York, set a lengthy time period for squatters rights to kick in — something like 12 years. It’s highly unlikely that real estate of even minimal value would sit that long without the titleholder expressing the token efforts it would require (or more) to keep a stake in defensible ownership rights.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 04/13/2008 09:59:43 PM
Category: Business, New Yorkin', Society
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Nothing sets off restaurant buzz like an onerous reservation process; and despite egalitarian intentions, that’s what new downtown hotspot Momofuku Ko (literally Japanese for “son of Momofuku”) has:

The only way to land a spot is to log on to Ko’s Web site, create an account, register with a credit card and take a shot at finding an empty space on a bingo-like grid. Seats are released at 10 a.m. everyday for the current seven-day period.

Some have succeeded — even repeatedly — at eating at Ko, with its $85 tasting menu which emphasizes French and Asian cooking. But there are no moments for indecision — you have to click on a green arrow the moment you see it — and luck seems to play a big part.

Why the rigmarole? Aside from the limited space — only 12 counter seats in the whole place — Ko owner David Chang is rabidly against reservation scalpers. Just in case you don’t know that that is, he’s provided a definition.

Frankly, the countertop dining seems more oriented toward foodie enthusiasts than to anyone who actually wants to take a date there. I don’t see enough exclusivity appeal to bother with landing a spot.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 04/13/2008 08:13:01 PM
Category: Food, Internet, New Yorkin'
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Much as my first Jelly session was photographed and Flickr’d, this past Friday’s Jellyness was video-recorded and Viddler’d.

Viddler‘d? Yes. Just watch:

Somewhere around the midway point of this compilation, you’ll see yours truly, wearing a green-and-white long-sleeved tshirt. I consciously decided to dress down this time, as I felt I stuck out last time in my shirt and tie. It helped that I made Jelly the main event of that Friday. The wardrobe choice came back to bite me late in the day, when I had to make a last-minute face-to-face meeting, but little (if any) harm done.

You’ll also notice me brandishing my XO Laptop, that I said I’d bring. Despite the oohs and ahs, no one was interested enough in the little Linux box to actually crack it open. I had figured as much beforehand.

Unfortunately, the videocamera (which was, in fact, one of those super-cool Flips) didn’t capture my triumphant snag-free upgrade of WordPress 2.5 onto PopulationStatistic.com. Good thing I blogged about it, right?

I had to leave around 1:30, after spending the better part of the morning at House 2.0. So I didn’t get to participate in the Wii gamebreak, nor the wrap-up potluck dinner. I believe the next Jelly is coming up in a couple of weeks, so maybe I’ll stick around for the extracurriculars then.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 04/13/2008 03:21:18 PM
Category: Business, New Yorkin', Tech
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Here’s what my grocery shopping consisted of, earlier this morning:

- a bag of potato chips (sweet maui onion flavor, if you must know)
- a box of mashed potato flakes

No potato famine in my house, apparently. It wouldn’t hurt to lay off the spuds, I suppose.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 04/13/2008 02:13:48 PM
Category: Food
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