Loft law sparks court battle in W’burg

TRD New York /
Jan.January 24, 2011 09:23 AM

A group of tenants at Williamsburg’s 338 Berry Street are claiming they’ve been harassed by their landlord after filing for protection under the state’s loft law, the Brooklyn Paper reported. Under the law, residential tenants who’ve been in the illegally-converted industrial building for at least a year can remain there — provided that the landlord doesn’t protest. But in this case, landlord Mona Gora-Friedman, who is planning a renovation of the 16-unit building she bought for $12 million in 2005, has taken her tenants to court to demand their eviction. They’ve filed a countermotion, which is slated to be heard Feb. 9, and are claiming Gora-Friedman cut off one tenant’s water and sent everyone threatening letters demanding that they remove existing plumbing work and partition walls. Attorney David Frazier, who is representing the tenants, said he’s concerned that Gora-Friedman is abusing a loophole in the loft law, which allows landlords to claim that the building’s industrial uses are dangerous to other residents (there’s a photography lab and a woodworking shop on the first floor of 338 Berry). “If [the exception to the law] so broad that it wipes out half the buildings covered, that’s not realizing the intention of the law, which is to protect residential tenants,” Frazier said. [Brooklyn Paper]

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