NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – An apartment battle in the Brooklyn between rent-stabilized tenants and their landlord is getting heated.
Residents claim they’re being forced out with a construction nightmare and now they’re fighting back.
CBS2 first told you about the tenants at 97 and 99 Clay Street last week. They claim their landlord is using construction to harass them in an effort to drive them from their rent-stabilized apartments.
They add they’ve enduring leaking ceilings, construction debris, and the threat of rats in their building. Now they’re rallying for their rights.
“The owners are sidestepping accountability,” tenant George Manatos said.
The property is run by a company called “Perfect Management,” under LJC Towers LLC, but the address leads to this shipping store filled with non-descript mailboxes.
“You can’t talk to a mailbox, there’s no one to talk to and they don’t want you talking to them, they don’t even want you know who they are,” Williamsburg resident Phil Smrek explained.
Smrek says he endured the same kind of abuse and knows the game landlords play all too well; especially when it comes to construction violations.
“I’ve seen them pay the fines like parking tickets, $5,000, $10,000… when you’re talking about $20 million properties, a $5,000 fine is nothing so there has to be actual prosecution and prison time for these landlords.
CBS2 reached out to the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development which investigates tenant harassment. The agency said it rejects “mail drop addresses” like this location.
“Many times they have the buildings listed under DOB with one owner and under HPD with a different owner. They drop letters in their last names, they change their spelling, it’s very shrouded, they’re under LLC’s.
CBS2 checked the address for LJC Towers LLC on the HPD website; it’s not at Lee Avenue where they claim, but a building on Manhattan Avenue that says Perfect Management on the door.
CBS2’s Valerie Castro rang their buzzer to ask some questions, but while she was waiting they turned the lights out.
Then, despite seeing someone just inside the doorway, CBS2 was ignored by the building’s occupants.
A representative from state senator Julia Salazar’s office says it’ll likely take legislative action for things to change.
“We’re going to work on it, this is definitely something we’re focused on,” Alvin Pena claimed.
For now, tenants say they’ll keep fighting for their rights in Williamsburg.