LES landlord hires private engineer, informs rent-stabilized tenants building must be demolished

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LOWER EAST SIDE (PIX11) -- "Dear Tom, I'm sorry to tell you that we will not be renewing your lease. We have been advised by an engineer that the building has to be rebuilt and most likely demolished."

That bombshell letter was delivered to the 24 tenants of 129 1st Ave. They all live in rent-stabilized apartments, but were told to be out of their homes in 90 days.

"It's a punch in the gut," said Tom Kirby, a resident of 129 1st Ave. "I think it's mean spirited and not enough notice."

Landlord Lee Odell told PIX11 by phone today that he had sent out that notice after a preliminary report by his private engineer.

However, the only violation on file with the Department of Buildings was a failure to file an annual boiler inspection report from 2012.

"I think it's an action of greed," Kirby noted.

And residents just want to keep their apartments. Tom has called this building home for 13 years.

So, PIX11 took a copy of that letter to Alan J. Goldberg, an expert in landlord-tenant law.

"First of all it sounds like it's clear harassment to me," Goldberg said.

Goldberg believes the tenants clearly have the law on their side.

"Any rent-stabilized tenant in New York City had the right to remain in their apartment unless they are ordered out by court after a trial or unless there is a vacate order by the Department of Buildings or Department of Housing Preservation and Development," the lawyer said.

Goldberg's office gets calls every day from renters in similar situations -- and he's seen an uptick of cases on the Lower East Side.

"Property values are soaring and landlords are resorting to means that I haven't seen back from the 80s the early 80s of harassing tenants trying to force tenants out of buildings and doing so for clear profit motives," Goldberg observed.

The neighbors at 149 1st Ave will meet next Tuesday to organize a collective response to their landlord, Lee Odell.

The tenants are getting support from a local non profit -- Good Ole Lower East Side.

"One of the first things we want to know from the landlord is, where is that report?" Wasim Lone of GOLES said.

"We're not going to go down without a fight," Kirby said.

3 comments

  • tm

    Hang him in the town square. Make an example of him. Think of all the time we’ll ALL save. Enough is enough. These people need to be taught a lesson. Just kidding. Sort of.

  • Chris Cheplic

    You’ve been living in the most expensive city in the world for next to nothing for a long time. The gravy train has to stop at some point or did you never think it would? Cut the shit and just move on to fleecing the city in the Bronx or some other shithole where you belong.

    • Diogenes Lightshadowe

      Rent Stabilized apartments are not Rent Controlled apartments. Rent Stabilization comes about when Landlords have either purchased buildings from the City for $1 or something similar, have then gotten interest free loans & grants from the City to fix them up and have enjoyed huge Property Tax breaks. The only condition was to make a certain number of apartments “Rent Stabilized”, meaning that the rents could only be raised by approx. 2-3% per year.
      These landlords have enjoyed immense handouts from NYC in exchange for providing a few affordable apartments (in the hope that local residents wouldn’t be completely priced out as property values grew – a false hope it turns out), then want to renege on the deal. They’re the ones fleecing the City.
      I lived in that building shortly after I got back from the Gulf War. A one room apartment on the top floor, without even a bath tub, that leaked every time it rained. Seriously, water poured from the ceiling when it rained. I had to take the landlord to court to fix it, the shoddy job his cronies did never actually worked, until finally I moved out – allowing him to jack up the rent another 10% for the new tenants. During all of that he was paying next to nothing in property tax, didn’t have a mortgage to worry about and was raking in rent from 20 -30 apartments. He’s been riding the gravy train for years and now he’s getting greedy.

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