The Real Deal New York

Bushwick reps: seize property of serial code violaters

Velazquez, Reynoso seek to crack down on landlords who sabotage their own buildings
March 20, 2014 03:30PM

Bushwick representatives and residents, riled over a landlord who destroyed his own tenements to force rent-stabilized tenants to move, are calling for the city to institute harsher laws against the tactic.

Advocates want the city to seize properties of landlords who have racked up code violations — rather than just fining them.

Councilman Antonio Reynoso and Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez, along with several community groups, are leading the push. Their concern is due to a spike in the number of incidents where owners of rent-stabilized buildings sabotage apartments or utilities to make living conditions unbearable, and thus drive tenants out — all in a bid to get the full market-rate for the spaces.

In one instance, a landlord who owns a total of 19 buildings in New York reportedly took an ax to the heating and electricity units in a building in Greenpoint, allegedly forcing tenants to vacate the property.

“It is unconscionable in the city of New York, which is the financial capital of the world, that we would allow what this landlord is doing to these tenants,” Velazquez told the paper. To date, Israel has been fined less than $2,500 for violations at his buildings. [Brooklyn Paper] Angela Hunt