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

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GREENPOINT, Brooklyn (PIX11) – A couple of Brooklyn landlords are allegedly destroying their own building to force rent-stabilized tenants to pack up their things and leave.  That’s the claim coming out of Greenpoint tonight.

People living in Greenpoint say Joel and Aaron Israel, owners of 300 Nassau Avenue, are forcing them out.

The two men were scheduled to meet with inspectors from the Department of Buildings and Housing Preservation and Development Wednesday.

The not-so-proud owners showed up with their heads covered after a so-called “security guard” told them reporters were waiting.

“I have two twins and it’s horrible,” said Catalina Hidalgo.

Hidalgo is just one of the tenants who were forced to leave last month when the DOB issued a vacate order.

As soon as the landlords saw the PIX11 cameras they took off running.

Hidalgo says her kitchen is collapsing, and the building is in disrepair.

She believes the owners are just trying to force her to move because her apartment is rent stabilized.

She says one of the owners even offered her $50,000 to leave.

“He wants me out of the building; going rate for a two-bedroom is $2500.  I pay $754.”

When Hidalgo and other tenants refused the offer, they say problems with the building got worse.

Someone broke the boiler, slashed the sewer pipes, and gutted the gas and electrical meters in the basement.

Gustavo Navarro has lived in the building his whole life, and was home the night it happened.

“There was a whole lot of noises and then the power went off.  So I know that something bad happened, so I had to go downstairs and check it out.  Then next thing I know I see two people running off.”

Residents say the two landlords began destroying their own building just to evict tenants of the rent-stabilized apartments.

When Navarro went back to check the basement it was already flooding.

“Like a full-on rain in this building, even though it wasn’t raining that day.”

Since, Navarro and his family have been forced to stay in a shelter in East New York.

But thanks to Saint Nicks Alliance, a local community group, the tenants have a lawyer and have filed a lawsuit asking the court to appoint an administrator to make emergency repairs.

In a statement Attorney Adam Meyers said:

“Unfortunately, landlords in these rapidly gentrifying areas have been resorting to these aggressive tactics more and more as the financial upside to displacing rent stabilized tenants and converting units to market rate has become so great. In a situation like this the temptation for tenants is to grow tired of waiting for repairs and to simply move on with their lives, giving profiteering landlords exactly what they want.”

The Israel’s must have hoped I would move on Wednesday morning.  Hours after city inspectors left, the pair remained inside the building: no power, no water, and no heat.

When they finally emerged, they hit the ground running, their faces once again covered.

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