BK landlords still gutting occupied, rent-controlled apartments: tenants

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BROOKLYN (PIX11) – Michele Crespo broke down in tears as she described her living situation at 98 Linden Street.

“We want justice for everything that’s going on because we’re not the only people going through this,” said Crespo.

The mother of two pays about $700 a month for her apartment.  She says nine months ago her landlord Joel Israel told her he was renovating her kitchen and bathroom, a renovation he said would take a few weeks.

Landlord sign

Furious residents say they have been left without utilities for months after landlords destroyed their rent-controlled apartments — but continued to charge rent.

Today her walls are gutted, there’s debris everywhere, and she has no working toilet or sink.  She and other tenants are forced to share a bathroom in another apartment.

“We have family, we’re people.”

Destroyed building

Tenants believe the landlords are leaving them in inhumane conditions in an effort to push them out and clear the building for luxury redevelopments.

Crespo says she’s being forced out of her rent-controlled apartment to make way for a high-priced luxury building.
But this isn’t the first time we’ve heard this story about Joel Israel and his cousin Aaron.

RELATED: Did two Brooklyn landlords ruin their OWN building just to evict tenants?

Last month PIX11 chased the pair down the block as they ran from questions about the same problems at another building owned by JBI management at 300 Nassau Avenue.

Tuesday, attorney Glenn H. Spiegel for JBI Management issued this statement:
“My clients intend to make all necessary repairs as quickly, safely and responsibly as possible.  These buildings were acquired by them after years of neglect and disinvestment.”

But tenants and elected officials who rallied outside 98 Linden say the actions by JBI Management have been criminal.

Real estate owners

But this isn’t the first time we’ve heard this story about Joel Israel and his cousin Aaron, last month PIX11 chased the pair down the block as they ran from questions about the same problems at another building

“This landlord should be sent to jail and throw the keys away,” said Representative Nydia Velazquez.

Which is why the group is calling on Mayor de Blasio to help fix a broken system and give tenants a fair fight in housing court against their landlords.
They want harsher penalties for slumlords and the money to fix destroyed homes quickly.

The city already has the power to come in and make the necessary repairs, but right now HPD can’t afford such extreme cases.

“The reason we don’t have enough money is because it’s completely out of hand at this point,” said City Councilman Antonio Reynoso.  “There are so many buildings that are in disrepair and their are so many buildings that need help that the city alone can’t be the one that fixes them all.”

While Mayor de Blasio has said a major focus of his administration would be bringing more affordable housing to New York, the group outside 98 Linden says the Mayor first needs to prevent situations like this from happening so the affordable housing that already exists isn’t destroyed for good.