Howard gets ‘big time’ landlord to pay up

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

JERSEY CITY -- The LeFrak Organization is the number two landlord in New York City. It owns more than 12,500 apartments including Gateway Plaza in Battery Park City.

Alfredo D’Innocenzo and his wife Isabella used to live there. They moved there after Hurricane Sandy forced them out of Hoboken. A few months ago they moved back to New Jersey, taking up residence in Jersey City, closer to the cozy cafe that Isabella runs in Hoboken, The Green Pear.

But their big time landlord wouldn’t return their security deposit of about $4,000. According to Alfredo, the management company had an excuse.

“They are replacing the hardwood floors because of water damage. The cost was $4,500. The repairs was $4,050.”

So Alfredo got a check for a measly $50.

Only one problem: Alfredo says there wasn’t any water damage. He asked for photos. The management wouldn’t produce them. So Alfredo sued and won a default judgment in small claims court for $4,256.23. One more problem: the management company wouldn’t pay.

That’s where I come in. I met Alfredo one afternoon near Gateway Plaza and went over to the office. I made it pretty clear that he had a judgment and expected his money. And finally, management did the right thing. A few days later, Alfredo had his check.

And the management company, Gateway Residential Management, sent us a statement on Monday afternoon. It included photos showing the alleged water damage and stated the “resident left the apartment dirty, installed lighting that he did not remove in violation of his lease, and caused water and other damages to the wood floor of his apartment.” It said Alfredo was sent a check in June that he never received and it apologized to him for the delay in getting a new one to him.

He’s happy. I’m happy. And here’s a tip that can keep you happy: when you’re moving out take photos of the apartment and send copies to the landlord. That way there’s no dispute over what the apartment looked like when you turned in your keys.