State subpoenas Brooklyn landlord who “victimized” tenants

October 10, 2013 04:47PM

New York State’s Tenant Protection Unit is going after a Flatbush and Crown Heights landlord accused of harassing tenants and violating their rights.

The TPU served Yeshaya Wasserman, owner and manager of Homewood Gardens and seven other properties, with a subpoena demanding documents from the buildings, which contain a total of 181 units.

Tenants at Homewood Gardens, which includes 651-667 Brooklyn Avenue, 652-668 Brooklyn Avenue and 416-44 Hawthorne Street, told the TPU that the landlord victimized them by failing to cash rent checks or provide services including heat and water, pressuring tenants to vacate their units, subjecting them to frivolous housing court proceedings, and as much as tripling the rent soon after purchasing the property.

“In interviewing the tenants in these buildings, we understood how vulnerable they feel – some of them terrified about potentially losing their homes,” Darryl Towns, commissioner and CEO of New York State Homes and Community Renewal, which includes the TPU, told the Brooklyn Eagle.

A preliminary audit of agency records also revealed that the landlord often registered rents with the agency as exactly $2,500, in a move that enabled Wasserman to claim rent had reached the deregulation threshold. The landlord may have also unlawfully deregulated apartments while receiving a J-51 tax abatement, according to agency records cited by the Brooklyn Eagle.

The Brooklyn Eagle did not include a comment from Wasserman. [Brooklyn Eagle]Julie Strickland