Queens landlord hiked up fees to push out rent-stabilized tenants, suit says

December 28, 2011 11:21AM

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From left: 90-36 149th Street and George Subraj of Zara Realty

Tenants at 90-36 149th Street in Jamaica, Queens, are suing landlord Zara Realty after they were charged lump sums for capital improvements made to their building, the New York Daily News reported.

Long-time tenants at the rent-stabilized building say they were charged the increase in one installment because the landlord wants to force out lower-income residents. Charges included $145 to replace windows that were broken during construction, according to tenants.

The suit says tenants were charged more upfront than the landlord was entitled to collect, and that repairs tenants should not have to pay for were billed to residents.

Landlords are allowed a rent increase of no more than six percent per annum. Repeated attempts by the News to confirm the law with the state’s Division of Housing and Community Renewal office were rebuffed, the paper said.

Non-profits the Catholic Migration Office and Queens Legal Services are handling the case for the tenants.

George Subraj, an owner of Zara Realty, made conflicting statements to the News, arguing first that the fee hikes were completely legal, and later saying that the fees were added to tenants’ bills as a one-time charge in order to keep track of what each tenant owed.

“We shall have to investigate,” Subraj said. [NYDN]