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Landlord Accused Of Destroying Apartments To Force Out Tenants Appears In Court

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A Brooklyn landlord faced a judge today after his tenants accused him of trying to force them out by trashing their rent-stabilized apartments.

As CBS 2’s John Slattery reported Thursday, some of Joel Israel‘s tenants would like to see him locked up.

“He should be in jail. Our landlord should be in jail,” said tenant Michelle Navas.

Navas is one of Israel’s longtime tenants at 98 Linden St., one of the properties he owns.

Last month, she and another tenant gave CBS 2 a tour of their bathrooms and kitchens, saying Israel had demolished them with sledgehammers last June, promising renovations. Nine months later and still no repairs, Slattery reported.

“It’s unfortunate. It’s injustice. He needs to fix our apartment already. I don’t understand why he waits so long to do what he needs to do,” Navas said.

Israel, who owns a number of buildings, has been cited with 85 code violations at 98 Linden St., as well as hundreds of other violations at a half dozen other buildings.

According to his tenants’ lawyer, Israel was trying to use intimidating tactics to get them out.

“He thinks the longer my clients don’t have a kitchen or bathroom they would give up. But they’re not going to. What would he do? Probably renovate the apartments and raise the rent,” attorney Brent Meltzer said.

Israel’s attorney said in a statement, the building is unstable and must be temporarily vacated.

“We are in court today as part of our continuing efforts to make the repairs as quickly and safely as possible, and will welcome the tenants back, as is their right, once the work is completed,” said Glenn Spiegel, attorney for JBI Management.

The wheels of the housing court grind slowly with the two sides back for another hearing next week, Slattery reported.

Because repairs have not been made, several months ago the housing court ordered the rent in the apartments be reduced to a dollar per month until repairs are completed.

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