One of Jared Kushner’s buildings, 118 East 4th Street, where tenants have taken legal action against their landlord (Photo courtesy of Streeteasy)
After months of pleading with Westminster City Living to restore cooking gas and address a litany of repairs in her aging East Village tenement building, Jennifer Hengen and other members of the 118 East 4th Street tenant association had reached their breaking point. “It was like waiting for Godot,” she recalled.
Not only had the building’s real-estate management company, headed by Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, neglected to fix problems in her building, and many more across the neighborhood, but tenants felt as if the problems didn’t really matter to management. “We’re invisible to them because we’re not millionaires,” she said. “I just don’t think we’re taken very seriously– number one, because we’re not in one of the big, shiny buildings and, number two, because we are rent-stabilized.”
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman filed a lawsuit today against the property manager and landlords of several apartment buildings in Chinatown and the Lower East Side for allegedly harassing rent-controlled tenants with “repeated illegal and deceptive practices.” The complaint, filed in New York Supreme Court, accuses the buildings’ owners and Marolda Properties Inc., which manages the buildings, of attempting to bully tenants into vacating rent-regulated units using a variety of improper tactics.
Karen Platt’s East Village building, 522 East 5th Street (Photo: Nicole Disser)
Karen Platt has been channeling her frustrations through the satisfying scrape of chalk across concrete. After years of living with dust, noise, and health hazards caused by construction, repeated and seemingly relentless service cut-offs, and what she says are intentional moves by her landlord to clear her (and other rent-regulated tenants like her) out of her longtime home at 522 East 5th Street in the East Village, Platt’s sidewalk messages reveal she has reached a breaking point: “Lack of services is harassment” and “Enough is Enough.”
As Platt explained to B+B, since Icon Realty Management bought her building, things took a turn for the miserable. “I’ve lived in New York my whole life and I’ve never, ever been treated like this,” she said.
Jesenia and her daughter outside their apartment building. (Photo Credit: Sam Gillette)
The two-bedroom apartment that Jesenia Ventura shares with her three young children, her sister, and her mother Amalia Martinez is so run-down that some windows will stay open only long enough to smash fingers, while others are stuck open even in winter. Frames of doors are ripped off, floor tiles are pulled up, and there is no running water in the bathroom sink, Jesenia says. There is green and black mold, drooping ceilings and a floor that is so warped that Jesenia’s son once tripped and cut his forehead. Jesenia worries that if she takes her kids to daycare, she’ll be reported to Child Protective Services. She says they regularly wake up in the middle of the night itching from painful-looking bedbug bites, and cockroaches crawl across their beds.
The conditions at 501-505 Grand Street, in Williamsburg, are so poor that in the summer of 2014, Amalia, Jesenia and four others organized a tenant association and filed official complaints to NYC Housing Preservation and Development. They hoped to persuade the building’s new owners, Manny and Eden Ashourzadeh of 501 EMR LLC, to make critical repairs. More →
Council Member Rosie Mendez is blocking the landlord’s representative from filming the tenants. (Photo: Ilyse Liffreing)
Tenants of a Lower East Side apartment building are not happy. Construction has subjected them to constant headaches, including hazardous levels of lead, representatives of the 210 Rivington Street Tenants Association said at a rally outside of the building today. More →