Thursday, April 21, 2016

NYC Tenant Advocate Suspects Some Local Landlords Of Sabotaging Their Own Buildings w/ Code Violations To Provoke City Agencies Into Issuing Vacate Orders To Boot Long-Time, Below-Market Rate-Paying Tenants Who May Otherwise Be Impossible To Evict; One Tenant Group Responds w/ Suit Seeking Court-Appointed 7A Administrator To Seize Control Of Premises From Owner

In Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, DNAinfo New York reports:
  • Tenants of a Franklin Avenue apartment building were forced out of their homes by the city after their landlord illegally constructed a building in their backyard and made it unsafe for them to live in their homes.

    Najary Torres and her three daughters were awoken at midnight on July 14, 2015 by Red Cross workers, who had come to enforce a full vacate order on the 94 Franklin Ave. property — issued by the city due to the landlord's illegal construction, according to Torres, DOB records and a lawsuit she and two other tenants filed against her landlord.

    They've been living at a homeless shelter ever since, and the whole experience has left her children "traumatized," she said. “They feel very unsafe, everything has been extremely difficult. It’s life changing to them,” Torres said in Spanish through a translator. “What my daughters went though psychologically will never be remedied, it will never be the same for them. My daughters are going through a lot and they’re afraid of a lot of things.”
    ***
    Tenants were forced to vacate in the middle of the night, and were unable to take all their belongings, residents and their lawyers aid. [...] When residents were able to return to the building on a occasion to retrieve their belongings, they found that a pipe had burst, leaving water damage throughout their apartments, in addition to other conditions including a rat infestation and rotting floors, according to tenants and court documents.

    So far, the DOB has issued six violations against the property for the illegal construction — including the stop work and full vacate orders — which still remain open, according to the agency's records. The DOB has also issued more than $7,000 in fines, none of which have been paid, records show.
    ***
    But so far none of these actions have forced the landlord to remedy the situation, residents are paying for it everyday and the city could do more to help, according to the tenants' lawyers.

    “What’s also very frustrating to us is you have more and more landlords with bad intentions who are for many reasons looking for ways to force out existing tenants either through eviction process or provoking existing city agencies to do their dirty work,” said Brooklyn Legal Services Corporation A(1) attorney Jean Stevens, who represents the tenants.

    “We believe the agencies have good intentions but they can really be empowered to push back against landlords and say, ‘Sorry, this isn’t going to fall on the tenants’ shoulders.”

    Three of the tenants, who have lived in rent-stabilized apartments in the building for at least 9 years, filed a lawsuit against the landlord in housing court on March 9, asking a judge to take the property away from [the landlord].

    They're seeking to let a court-appointed administrator manage the building as part of the 7a program, according to Stevens.
For more, see Family Forced To Live in Shelter Due to Illegal Construction by Landlord.

See also:
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(1) Brooklyn Legal Services Corporation A (Brooklyn A) provides neighborhood based civil legal services to low-income individuals, families, community groups, and nonprofit organizations in Brooklyn, New York.

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