Tuesday, June 14, 2016

More Light On Unscrupulous NYC Landlords Who Intentionally Create Hazardous Conditions, Then Get City Inspectors To Issue Vacate Orders In Sleazy Gentrification Campaign To Empty Rental Buildings Of Nearly-Impossible To Boot, Rent-Regulated Tenants

From a recent op-ed piece in The New York Times:
  • THE arraignment of the notorious New York landlord Steven Croman last month was a rare bit of good news for the tenants in his buildings, many of whom have said they have endured hazardous conditions designed to force them out of their homes. Mr. Croman was charged with 20 felonies related to his rental income (he has pleaded not guilty), and faces a civil suit accusing him of using illegal means to force tenants out of their rent-stabilized apartments, in order to renovate them and find new tenants to pay market rates.

    Unfortunately, Mr. Croman’s alleged approach to emptying buildings is not at all uncommon. Altering or destroying a building in order to make it unsafe is the method of choice for many property owners operating in some of the city’s most rapidly changing neighborhoods.

    When tenants can no longer cope with the danger, they often reach out to city agencies for help, which plays right into the property owner’s hand: A city inspector pays a visit, observes the hazards and issues an order to vacate. Tenants then have mere hours to leave their homes, and once they vacate an apartment it is nearly impossible for them to get back in.

    Even when housing court disputes are settled and a judge finds a property owner responsible for illegal construction, such decisions rarely involve criminal charges. Occasionally, city and state governments are able to work in concert to arrest a bad actor. But the number of bad actors far exceed the arrests. Brooklyn, which is undergoing an aggressive wave of gentrification, is rife with property owners who engage in these practices with impunity. Specific examples are easy to come by.

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