NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Another Brooklyn landlord stood accused Thursday of destroying a tenant’s home and belongings while claiming he was making renovations.
As CBS 2’s Sonia Rincon reported exclusively, two families living at 98 Linden St. in Bushwick, Brooklyn have already accused their landlord, Joel Israel, of gutting their apartments with sledgehammers in what they said was an effort to make repairs in renovations. The families claimed it was an attempt to force them out of their rent-stabilized units.
Now, Joel Israel’s brother, Aaron Israel, is under fire, facing similar accusations at another building at 324 Central Ave. in Brooklyn. A mother of four said her apartment in the other Bushwick building was practically demolished by wrecking crews when she was not home.
“They didn’t warn me of anything; they didn’t’ advise me of anything,” Hormigo said in Spanish.
CBS 2’s cameras were there last week as Silveria Hormigo was cleared out of her apartment. On Thursday, she was finally allowed to return.
She said she had no warning when she was vacated from the unit, and said her landlords waited until her four children had gone to school and she herself was at a doctor’s appointment.
“All I heard was banging, so when I open the door, all I see is like, all their stuff being taken out,” said neighbor Jimmy Tejada.
On Thursday, after a judge ordered Aaron Israel to let her back in, Hormigo found the apartment in a deplorable state of chaos. Her children’s bunk beds had been taken away, she said.
Hormigo was staying with a friend as of Thursday, and said her children are kids are having nightmares, asking where their toys were and what happened to their home.
The wrecking crew that came to the apartment last week destroyed the bathroom and the kitchen, and even made a hole in the wall here that went right through to the apartment next door.
Alicia Peña lives on the other side of the wall and says the dust made her even sicker. Someone has since been sent to patch the hole.
Housing advocate Kennedy Rivera said the incident is part of an ongoing saga with the landlords Joel and Aaron Israel, who own buildings all over Bushwick.
“It’s the same pattern,” Rivera said. “They break up the apartment so they can’t get back in, and then these people are evicted from their apartments.”
In the earlier incident at Joel Israel’s Linden Street building, the two gutted apartments were deemed unsafe by the city Department of Housing Preservation and Development, and the families were ordered to leave.
A partial vacate order was issued in that building, meaning that bedrooms could still be used but demolished areas are off limits as the city pursues the landlord.
The tenants and their attorney believe that the landlord is trying to force them out of their rent-stabilized homes so he can charge higher rent.
An attorney for the landlord late Thursday afternoon returned CBS 2’s calls, and said Hormigo owed $18,000 dollars in back rent — which the tenant denies. The lawyer said the tenant was also warned she would be evicted.
CBS 2 will be following up on the landlord’s evidence.
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