Legal Aid Files Lawsuit for Court-Appointed Administrator in 53 Unit Building With 204 HPD Violations

Landlords Have Denied Tenants Working Cooking Gas and Other Essentials for More Than One Year

Tenants at 1210 Stratford Ave. in the Bronx are asking the court to appoint an administrator to oversee and repair the building. Photo Credit: Linda Rosier

The Legal Aid Society filed a 7A proceeding in Bronx Housing Court against landlords Sam David and Lazer Kviat for refusing to address dilapidated building conditions including elevator service outages and a leaky roof, and denying tenants working cooking gas for more than a year. The building is located at 1210 Stratford Avenue in the Soundview section of the Bronx and currently has 204 open housing violations with the City. This is the second building in the Bronx controlled by landlords Sam David and Lazer Kviat where tenants have petitioned for a 7A Administrator due to David and Kviat’s failure to ensure tenants the basic services to which they are entitled under law.

“Sam David and Lazer Kviat have demonstrated once again that they do not take seriously their obligations to abide by court orders or provide basic services to their rent-paying tenants,” said Benjamin Seibel, Staff Attorney at the Legal Aid Society.

“Landlords Sam David and Lazer Kviat’s record of persistently failing to ensure that tenants receive basic services shows that tenants need the Court to take the drastic, but warranted, measure of appointing a responsible administrator for their building,” said Russell Crane, Staff Attorney at the Legal Aid Society. “No family should have to suffer these living conditions, especially with cold weather and around the holidays.

“I have lived in this building 36 years and it is now in the worst shape it has been. This landlord doesn’t show any respect or consideration for the tenants here. Just recently because the front door was broken, there were people sleeping in the halls of the building. Any time we ask for repairs the landlord’s employee says he is too busy working on other apartments that the landlord is trying to rent to new tenants,” said Elbyn Salazar, a tenant of the building.

“I feel depressed in this holiday season without gas in my apartment. My ceiling is horrible and has a serious leak from the roof and I am worried about mold. The Superintendent told me that the landlord had no plans to fix the roof until the warmer weather and we are just at the start of the winter,” said Maritza Perez, a tenant of the building.

“The conditions at 1210 Stratford Avenue are both deplorable and unacceptable. Over a year without gas, no repairs, extensive apartment damages; ongoing massive leaks, elevators not running for extended periods of time despite seniors living in higher floors, is simply inexcusable. For months, my office and my colleagues in Government have worked to bring improvements, and while gains were made, families deserve much more. I’m grateful to Legal Aid for bringing this action and ensuring that every fix is made, while holding the owners accountable and holding back the only thing they seem to care about, their money.” said Assemblyman Marcos A. Crespo.

Legal Aid represents 21 tenants in this litigation and will appear before a judge on December 20, 2018 to seek a court-appointed administrator to take over the building.

Cooking gas has been disconnected for the tenants since November 2017. HPD’s Litigation Department sued the landlord in Housing Court in April 2018 due to the landlords’ failure to make repairs. In that case, landlords Sam David and Lazer Kviat agreed on August 9, 2018 to restore cooking gas service by October 8, 2018 and to correct outstanding violations. HPD is now seeking to hold the landlord in contempt for failing to comply with the August 9th settlement.

In court papers, HPD states that it sent an inspector to the premises who noted that “no work was being done at the building” and that the Landlord did not even file for a proper permit for the construction needed to restore the gas service until October 8, 2018.

Meanwhile, HPD records show that there are currently 204 open violations of record in the building, including 37 “C” violations, 134 “B” violations and 33 “A” violations. These violations include leaks, mold, and vermin infestations. In addition, there are currently 12 open violations issued by the Department of Buildings and 25 open Environmental Control Board violations.

Tenants at the building are seeking a court order appointing an administrator who would use their rent money to properly manage the building, and who would be empowered to take out necessary loans to complete the repairs necessary to make the building and their individual apartments habitable.

The Respondents in the case are the owner Marquis Realty 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. The Department of Buildings has also been named as a party because of the periodic elevator outages over the past year.

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