This post was originally featured on LSNYC's blog.
The Tenant Rights Campaign, a joint initiative of Legal Services NYC and The Legal Aid Society, working in collaboration with New York Communities for Change, launched an anti-displacement initiative in East New York and Brownsville. (Above: Residents of 650 New Jersey Avenue gather before this morning's press conference).
With an illegally deregulated building as a backdrop, dozens of tenants, community members and housing lawyers gathered to announce they will hold bad landlords accountable for terrible building conditions, illegal rent overcharges, and exploiting loopholes to deregulate apartments.
The illegally deregulated building chosen for the launch is a prime example of the damage caused by unscrupulous landlords. Families at 650 New Jersey Avenue in East New York recently discovered that their landlord, New River Realty Corpheaded by Michael Slochowsky, a landlord listed by the Public Advocate as one of the worst in New York City, has been overcharging them for years. The landlord has also filed false information with the State in order to illegally deregulate every single unit in his dilapidated rent-stabilized building. Now, with the assistance of the Tenant Rights Campaign, the tenants have today filed a lawsuit against their landlord in Kings County Supreme Court to challenge the rent overcharges and illegal deregulation of their apartments.
"These landlords have let the building fall into absolutely deplorable condition and they engaged in a fraudulent scheme to illegally deregulate the units,” said Legal Services NYC attorney Jim McCormick. “We believe that every tenant in this building is the victim of a rent overcharge and every one of them is entitled to a rent-stabilized lease. What has happened to the tenants of 650 New Jersey Avenue are exactly the kinds of abuses by landlords that our Tenant Rights Campaign is here to address."
“As the affordable housing stock in the city has decreased, and the rental charges for apartments has increased due to de-regulation under the Rent Stabilization Law, there has been an increase in the number of buildings in which landlords are attempting to illegally raise rents and/or force out long-standing tenants. The Legal Aid Society stands with tenants fighting for their right to live in habitable living conditions, and right to pay only the legal allowable rent on their apartment,” said Asha Smith, Staff Attorney, The Legal Aid Society.
The Tenant Rights Campaign, funded by the City to provide legal services, also launched a citywide hotline that tenants can call to get assistance with bad conditions, harassment, illegal rent overcharges, and other landlord abuses. Brooklyn tenants living in the zip codes of 11212, 11233, 11207 and 11208 can call 917-661-4505 to report their issues. The Tenant Rights Campaign expects to protect thousands of families citywide.
For more information, contact Marika Dias at 646-442-3588 or firstname.lastname@example.org.