The Real Deal New York

Greenpoint landlord sued for sabotage

Residents say Aaron and Joel Israel are trying to push out rent-regulated tenants
January 10, 2014 12:50PM

A Greenpoint landlord is accused of disabling the heat and electricity units in his own building to push rent-stabilized residents out of their apartments.

The tenants of 300 Nassau Avenue, between Hausman and Apollo streets, were forced by the city to vacate when someone took an ax to the building’s thermostat, electrical system and boilers.

With the help of an activist group, Saint Nick’s Alliance, the renters are now suing owners Aaron and Joel Israel, saying the brothers damaged the utilities themselves, according to the Brooklyn Paper.

“He is harassing all of the tenants so that they move out,” tenant Catalina Hidalgo said of Aaron to the Brooklyn Paper. “They want all the rent-stabilized tenants out of here so they can raise the rent.”

The Israels are losing money on long-time residents like Hidalgo, who has paid $754 per month for her two-bedroom space since 2004. In fact, Aaron recently offered Hidalgo $50,000 to move out — a worthy investment if the brothers could rent the space at the average price of a Greenpoint apartment: about $2,750, according to StreetEasy.

Brokers say Greenpoint’s exposure as the setting for HBO’s hit series “Girls” has boosted the neighborhood’s rental market recently, and rents have increased by more than 30 percent in 2012, as The Real Deal reported. [Brooklyn Paper] — Angela Hunt

  • murlocs gurgle

    Maybe that’s a crazy landlord BUT a REAL landlord would never destroy building systems like that because we have a VERY difficult time finding and affording honorable contractors. Once you find decent, LICENSED contractors, you never want to let them go.

    Why would a landlord be responsible for an act of violence against their own building? In our experience, not only do commercial tenants but residential tenants (who somehow were granted access by the commercial tenant) illegally attach their electrical, hot water and heat (radiators in the restaurant space discovered post arson) and plumbing to the building systems so that the landlord is basically PAYING for the privilege of hosting these lovely angelic citizens who do SO much for the commnunity.

    We found a lot of illegal wiring and construction work after the arson as well as suffering a lot of tricks played on us by people who had access to the basement to turn off and on the heat so that the tenants would complain against a blameless landlord. Because my mother would arrive in an occupied basement, she would find her building systems working perfectly. Then she would walk away and someone would turn things off and she would get another tenant complaint ALIENATING new (hated by rent regulated) tenants but not really affecting the rent control tenants – who own houses not only in the suburbs but condominiums in the neighborhood as well as having their names attached to other rent regulated units in Chinatown.

    We spent legal fees and extra contractor manhours establishing (on videotape) that an electrical outlet in a rent regulated apartment that the AAFE representative and the tenant insisted that we reactivate (the tenant claimed on the telephone – recorded) that she had installed it for an air conditioner – it wasn’t connected to her meter – it was connected to the commercial space – which in turn was connecting utilities to the landlord’s billed systems.

    Years later, she claiimed that the electrical outlet was there before she moved in.

    Why would this Greenpoint landlord risk losing his market rate tenants which keep the building afloat and subisidize the rent regulated tenants?

    Someone should find out if these rent regulated tenants have an alternate “secondary” address so they can afford for building systems to go down because that landlord will lose his market rate tenants thanks to that ax job. Trust me, the old tenants can make it their business to bear ill will towards total strangers who have the temerity to move into “their” building. They’ll hide it to those tenants’ faces but then have no problem burdening the landlord about how this is THEIR space and this is CHINESE space (we’re in Little Italy) and how they don’t like people knowing anything about them but then they demand to know the background of the new tenants in the same hypocritical breath.

    • Burg Resident

      Landlords make their building un-inhabitable so that the city issues a vacate order, and the rent-stabilized tenants find alternative housing. Then, the landlords get higher-paying tenants and make the money back. This happens all the time in trendy, gentrifying neighborhoods.

      • murlocs gurgle

        the vacate order is until repairs are completed, correct? So why wouldn’t the old tenants return after repairs are completed? I doubt such a loophole exists in protenant NYS – it sounds like an urban legend.

      • murlocs gurgle

        Destruction of building systems is very serious – our arson fire required demolition so that my murdered father’s renovation of the restaurant space was totally ruined and he definitely did not illegally connect the restaurant to his own building’s utilities for the benefit of the future tenants. We had to install new electrical, new gas pipes because a rent controlled tenant called Con Ed and complained about a gas leak that no one could pinpoint but shut down our IMMEDIATE post-arson repairs. It sounds like the ax wielders were trying to successfully remove the new tenants and cripple the landlord financially.

        How much is it going to cost to repair the ax damage in Greenpoint?

      • murlocs gurgle

        if this happens all the time, the well-funded tenant advocacy groups would have cannon fodder but there are no specific examples or patterns of this habitual behavior that you are claiming. No one hurts their own building – no one enjoys water damage caused by absentee hoarder apartments and inexplicably tilted-inward window air conditioner units

  • how is this possible

    Joel Israel has gotten more outlandish even with media attention. This is all pretty fishy.