The Real Deal New York

Tenants at 66 Pearl sue over Sandy damage

March 01, 2013 06:30PM
By David Jones

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Lawrence Properties President Asher Bernstein and 66 Pearl

The landlord of 66 Pearl Street, a six-story apartment building in the Financial District, is facing a proposed class action for allegedly leaving the building exposed to Superstorm Sandy, forcing tenants to evacuate due to extensive flooding.

The building’s co-owner Kumquat Properties and manager Lawrence Properties failed to notify tenants of evacuation procedures, protect the ventilation system or block other entry paths to the 42-unit building, a suit filed Feb. 22 in New York State Supreme Court claims.

“They did not take the proper precautions given the amount of warnings that were offered,” said attorney Vincent Imbesi, who represents Joseph Astill, the lead tenant in the case.

When Sandy made landfall on Oct. 29, water rushed through metal ventilation grates at the property, flooding the electrical and heating systems located in the basement, the complaint says. The storm also penetrated the wooden doors in front of the building, leading to extensive flooding in the lobby, according to the suit.

The Department of Buildings declared the building uninhabitable immediately after the storm, and tenants were first notified on Nov. 16 that the building would be ready for residents to return by the end of the month, the suit says.

When residents returned, there was no phone or cable service for two weeks, basement laundry machines did not work, and the garbage compactor was not functioning, the suit says. Elevator service is expected to be out until May.

Tenants were told they would be credited for November rent, according to the suit, but the landlord has allegedly refused to credit back rent.

Of course, residents of 66 Pearl are not the only renters to face issues in the wake of the devastating storm, and others have sought relief in the courts. In January, tenants in three separate buildings filed suit alleging landlords failed to refund rent payments made in the aftermath of the storm when the premises were uninhabitable.

Earlier that month, residents of the Moinian Group’s 1 West Street also filed suit.

Lawrence Properties officials were not immediately available for comment.

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