Faye Dunaway Leaves Apartment Amid Rent Lawsuit

Faye DunawayNever mind the fact that Oscar-winning actress Faye Dunaway is in a legal dispute with her New York landlord -- the real scoop is that a celebrity of her caliber was paying peanuts for a one-bedroom walk-up on the Upper East Side.

The New York Times reported that the 70-year-old star, who made a name for herself in such iconic films as "Chinatown" and "Bonnie and Clyde," is being sued by her landlord for violating the rules of New York rent stabilization. Just why, you might ask, would the landlord go to such lengths to blow the whistle on his celebrity tenant? Because, as a long-time recipient of rent stabilization, Dunaway was paying less than half the average rent for the area.
While rifling (or, more likely, clicking) through the court filings, the Times discovered that Dunaway, who has rented the East 78th Street apartment since 1994, was paying only $1,048.27 a month. The average price for a one-bedroom in the area, the Times found, is $2,318.

Granted, more than $1,000 for a cramped one-bedroom may not sound like such a bargain to most of the country, but for outer-borough commuters renting closets for twice that amount, it's a steal.

The gist of the legal dispute has the landlord claiming that Dunaway does not use the apartment as her primary residence (a requirement for rent stabilization). Of course, at the heart of the matter is the landlord's desire to bring in a new tenant without the cushy benefit of snail's-pace rent hikes. (Dunaway, meanwhile, claims that she wasn't evicted but left the apartment because of its "bad condition.")

In any event, the most exciting tidbit to emerge from the controversy is that those rent-stabilized unicorns of the New York housing marketdo exist, and a lucky few -- including celebrities -- can benefit from them.

To tell if the New York rental you're eyeing qualifies, generally the property must include six or more units, must have been built before 1974, and cannot be a condo or co-op. There are, of course, exceptions to these rules.

In some cases, especially in the highly-coveted New York market, prospective tenants have to add their names to long waiting lists to even be considered for the property. And in the years since Dunaway signed into the apartment in 1994, demand has skyrocketed. But take heart, aspiring tenement dwellers -- if a Hollywood actress with only decades of professional contacts can bag one, maybe you can too!

Also see:
Rent-Stabilized Properties: A Dying Breed?
Renting From a Rel
ative (The Right Way)

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