An East Harlem landlord was arrested Tuesday on charges that he began taking apart a 10-unit building while a family of seven still lived there.
Ephraim Vashovsky faces charges including reckless endangerment, child endangerment and coercion for allegedly turning his apartment building at 21 East 115 Street into a “death trap,” Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. said.
Vashovsky allegedly began gut renovating the building to try to force tenants out of the rent-stabilized building, but with nowhere else to go, an immigrant family from Mexico remained in their $2,400-a-month apartment, the New York Daily News reported. The family has five young children.
The landlord is also accused of removing the fire escapes and turning off the heat, hot water and electricity.
A contractor and the building’s property manager have also been charged.
The city’s rent-stabilization law allows landlords to deny tenants’ renewal on leases if they can show that they have approved plans for a building, money to complete them and agree to pay for tenant relocation. It doesn’t appear that Vashovsky followed this protocol. [NYD] — Kathryn Brenzel