There’s been a new development in the battle between East Village tenants and their landlord, Jared Kushner (aka Donald Trump’s son-in-law). Residents of 118 East 4th Street weren’t too pleased last time we checked in with them. After months without cooking gas and terrible garbage buildups, tenants took Kushner and his company, Westminster City Living, to housing court. Now, however, we’re told they’ve reached a settlement.
According to a statement released by Jamie Stadtmauer, the Senior Vice President of the New York Operations for Westminster Management, “a settlement between 118-120 East Fourth Owner LLC, the Tenants’ Association, the New York City Department of Buildings, and the Department of Housing Preservation and Development has been reached and the proceeding has been discontinued against all named respondents.”
Tenants had charged that Westminster failed to address complaints about gas outages and garbage disposal. Stadtmauer had this to say about that:
On October 12, 2015, Con Ed received a complaint concerning the smell of gas in the building. Out of an abundance of caution, Con Ed turned off the gas, which disrupted heat, hot water and cooking gas service. Immediately following the shutoff, we began an expedited process with DOB during which we isolated heat and hot water gas service from the building’s cooking gas so that it could be restored faster.
Stadtmauer went on to explain that the restoration of cooking gas took so much time because they had to “arrange access to every apartment so that we could inspect and make the necessary repairs in those units,” and also had to bring the building’s meter room up to 2016 building codes, per Con Ed’s request. Westminster also states that they provided residents with hot plates during this period.
Stadtmauer added that the main complaints leveled against Westminster have now been addressed by the management, “including providing extra trash bins to accommodate garbage overflow and additional exterminator inspections on top of our routine exterminator service.”
Brandon Kielbasa, the organizing director at Cooper Square Committee, the advocacy group that assisted tenants with the lawsuit, confirmed the settlement and Westminster Management’s restoration of gas and heat. “None of this would have come together without the tenants organizing,” he concluded.
Update, April 20: The Cooper Square Comittee has provided Bedford + Bowery with the New York City Housing Court’s settlement stipulations. Brandon Kielbasa said “the tenants see this as a victory” and explained that those living in rent-stabilized apartments received a 60-percent abatement for the five months that they spent without gas, while those in market-rate apartments received a 30-percent abatement for the same period of time. The settlement also stipulates that the owner “agrees to inspect and make reasonable efforts to expeditiously perform the repairs, if required,” and that Westminster Management will tender payment in the amount of $3,000 to cover the legal costs of the tenants who filed the lawsuit.