Legal Aid Files Lawsuit Seeking Court Appointed Administrator to Fix Dilapidated Building Due to Landlord Neglect

PHOTO: KEVIN CASE | OBSERVER

RESIDENTS HAVE BEEN WITHOUT COOKING GAS FOR NEARLY A YEAR; BUILDING HAS RACKED UP 249 OPEN VIOLATIONS WITH CITY

The Legal Aid Society’s Tenant Rights Coalition filed a 7A proceeding in Bronx Housing Court on behalf of 22 residents of 643 Southern Boulevard in the Bronx. The entire building has been without cooking gas service since October 2017, and as of October 1st, there are 249 Violations open New York City Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) violations for this 46 unit building. This includes 132 class B violations for hazardous conditions and 72 class C violations for immediately hazardous conditions. Among these are violations for lead paint, leaks, mold, mice, roaches, and other conditions affecting the security, safety and comfort of the tenants.

“This landlord has utterly failed to meet the basic responsibilities of being a landlord, and tenants have suffered for far too long. This landlord’s course of conduct would appear to be a calculated effort to deny tenants their rights and force them to leave their homes,” said Benjamin Seibel, Staff Attorney at The Legal Aid Society.

“Housing Court provides a remedy for this situation by ordering the building to be placed in the hands of a capable administrator who will actually use tenants’ hard-earned rent money to restore gas to the building and to make repairs so tenants can have the safe and habitable homes to which they are entitled under the law,” said Russell Crane, Staff Attorney at The Legal Aid Society.

“I do not have money to buy take-out food for my baby and the rest of my family since we cannot cook in our apartment. I am very worried about the lead paint that was found in my apartment that the landlord has not fixed,” said Jessenia Taberas, daughter of Modesta Gonzalez, a tenant who has lived in the building for fifteen years.

Despite separate litigation by HPD and the tenants over the past year to force the landlord to make repairs and restore gas service, the work has still not been done and the owners have not complied with the court’s orders or their settlement agreements. Tenants at the building have suffered without being able to properly prepare meals due to the lack of gas. This has especially impacted families with young children who have seen their food expenses soar and elderly tenants on special diets who cannot prepare healthy food.

In this new case, 22 tenants at the building are seeking a court order appointing an administrator to manage the building, collect rents, take out necessary loans and complete the repairs necessary to make the building and their individual apartments habitable.

The Respondents in the case are the owner Marquis Housing LLC, the head officer of that corporation, Lazer Kviat A/K/A/ Abraham Lazer Kviat, the managing agent Sam David, the mortgage holder New York Community Bank, and, pursuant to statutory requirements, the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development.

This year, the Owners took out a mortgage of more than $3 million on the property from New York Community Bank, yet tenants have continued to be left without basic services and repairs.

Tenants have also recently received notice that the landlord owes over $12,000 in unpaid bills to Con Edison, and the utility company is threatening further termination of services if the bill is not paid immediately.

The Legal Aid Society’s Tenant Rights Coalition is supported by the City’s Human Resource Administration (HRA).