The Real Deal New York

BK tenant sues Jonas Equities for attempting illegal eviction

Family says the landlord launched a frivolous lawsuit claiming unpaid rent
July 11, 2017 06:00PM

15-21 Crooke Avenue

A family residing in one of Jonas Equities’ former Brooklyn rental buildings is suing the company, claiming it tried to illegally evict them.

Carmen Torres and her husband have lived with their three children at 15-21 Crooke Avenue in Prospect-Lefferts Gardens since 2004, the New York Daily News reported. Their rent of $1,714 is paid by the Department of Social Services because Torres has a disability. The department pays the money straight to the landlord.

However, some previous owners of the building have accused the family of not paying rent. Buddy Equities LLC, which is managed by Jonas Equities, took Torres to Civil Court last year, However, the judge dismissed the claim the family owed more than $11,000. Torres is now suing Buddy Equities in federal court for filing frivolous claims against her.

“Although they continue(d) to receive Ms. Torres’ rent each month, management persist(ed) with these illegal and repeated attempts to evict our client from her home,” said Diane Johnston, an attorney at the Legal Aid Society who represents Torres, according to the newspaper. The nonprofit has represented several of the tenants who have accused the affiliate of Jonas Equities of demanding an incorrect amount of rent.

The firm took over the building in 2015, and sold it in November 2016 for $16.4 million.

“Any action initiated by this office was initiated in good faith based on the records,” Larry Bernstein, vice president of Jonas Equities, told the newspaper. “We intend to defend ourselves as we see this as frivolous.”

This month’s issue of The Real Deal looks at efforts to stop tenant harassment in the city. [NYDN]Miriam Hall