Legal Aid Sues Neglectful Landlord on Behalf of 14 Tenants Under Anti-tenant Harassment Law

33 UNIT RENT-STABILIZED BUILDING WITH 115 VIOLATIONS IS PERMEATED BY SERIOUS LEAKS, MOLD, AND RODENT INFESTATIONS

The Legal Aid Society filed a lawsuit in Bronx County Housing Court on behalf of 14 tenants in a 33 unit rent-stabilized building seeking a Court Order for badly needed repairs, and also seeking a finding by the Court that their landlords’ sustained neglect of needed repairs constitutes harassment.

The landlords for 2108 Ryer Ave. - Alexander Hoffman and Isaac Gutman- together have allowed their building to fall into deep disrepair, leaving their tenants to contend with serious leaks, mold conditions, and rodent infestations.

In December 2016, City records show that Landlord Alexander Hoffman, on behalf of Ryer Realty Holdings 2108 LLC obtained a mortgage for $3.9 million dollars from Kearny Bank in which Hoffman promised to maintain the building in good repair. Notwithstanding his legal obligations to his tenants and to Kearny Bank, Hoffman has failed to invest in his property. Instead, he has allowed his property to amass 115 violations of record, including allowing unsanitary conditions to persist in tenants’ apartments and the common areas.

HPD currently has a pending lawsuit against the 2108 Ryer Ave landlords asserting that that the landlord does not provide sufficient heat and hot water to tenants.

The Legal Aid Society now represents 14 tenants in the 33 unit building in a new lawsuit against the landlords of 2018 Ryer Ave.. Tenants, several of whom have lived at 2108 Ryer Ave for decades, suffer from persistent leaks that are never properly addressed at the source, and mold conditions that are not properly treated and are simply painted over. City records show that HPD has cited the landlord for violations for leaks in the ceilings of the public halls of the building, and also for leaving the public halls in a dirty, unsanitary state.

“New York City has strong anti-harassment laws to protect tenants from neglectful landlords, such as landlords Alexander Hoffman and Isaac Gutman. These laws state that harassment exists where a landlord’s acts or omissions substantially interfere with or disturb the comfort, repose, peace or quiet of tenants. Tenants of 2108 Ryer Ave., like all New York City tenants, should not have to suffer due to a landlord who refuses to take the basic, necessary steps to maintain their building in good order, to the detriment of their health and lives,” said Russell Crane, Staff Attorney at the Legal Aid Society.

Workers employed by HPD had to repair lead paint violations in the apartment of Jashira Caraballo (#D1) last year, after the landlord failed to take action.

“Our complaints fall on deaf ears. The management does not recognize the severity of the problems in the building because when anything is done, it is just patchwork. Many of us have small children and they should not have to live in horrible conditions. We are human and should be treated as such,” said Jashira Caraballo, tenant of apartment D1.

“I have lived in the building for 37 years and I have never seen the conditions of the building be this bad. The other night I could not sleep because I could hear rodents running in my apartment. The landlord never properly seals the holes where rodents come from, so I have to deal with this constant problem,“ said Hortensia Diaz, tenant of apartment C2.

“In the 27 years I have lived here, the management has changed numerous times but with this management, conditions have just been getting worse. We pay our rent and we do not get repairs in return. I am fighting an illness and my grandchildren who live with me have asthma. We should not have to be inhaling the mold and mildew that never gets properly fixed,” said Tanya Johnson, tenant of apartment E3.

The Legal Aid Society’s Housing Group Advocacy Project is supported by the City’s Human Resource Administration (HRA).