Daily News: Disabled Tenant Sues Ex-Owners of Rent-Stablized Brooklyn Building for Illegally Trying to Evict Them
TUESDAY, JULY 11, 2017

The Daily News with the exclusive story on our lawsuit against an unscrupulous Brooklyn landlord and their relentless attempts to illegally evict our client.

NY Daily News
Disabled Tenant Sues Ex-Owners of Rent-Stablized Brooklyn Building for Illegally Trying to Evict Them
By Christina Carrega
July 11, 2017

The former owners of a rent-stabilized building were slapped with a federal lawsuit Tuesday by one of their tenants for illegally threatening to evict them, the Daily News has learned.

Carmen Torres, her husband and three children have lived at their Crooke Ave. address in Prospect Lefferts Gardens, located two blocks from Prospect Park, since 2004.

Torres, 55, who is disabled and needs a walker to get around, has her family’s $1,714.40 rent covered by the Department of Social Services (DSS), a division of the city’s Human Resources Administration's (HRA).

The DSS sends the amount directly to the landlord. Yet throughout the last five years, various owners of the building, including Buddy Equities LLC, have accused Torres of not paying rent for the three-bedroom apartment. Buddy Equities went so far as to take her to court in July and November 2016.

“We can’t get evicted. Where are we going to go? They kept threatening us to (make us) leave, but the rent was paid,” said Torres.

Now Torres is taking Buddy Equitiesto federal court for filing frivolous claims against her.

“Although they continue(d) to receive Ms. Torres’ rent each month, management persist(ed) with these illegal and repeated attempts to evict our client from her home,” said Diane Johnston, an attorney at the Legal Aid Society who represents Torres.

Those claims “unnecessarily and irresponsibly” put Torres and her family at risk of eviction and were in violation of the Federal Debt Collection Practices Act and state consumer protection laws, according to a Legal Aid Society spokesman.

In March, a civil court judge tossed a claim that Torres owed over $11,000 in 2016 when it was found that she didn’t owe a penny.

Since Buddy Equities took over the building in March 2015, the Legal Aid Society has represented several of the tenants in nonpayment proceedings that demand an incorrect amount of rent, according to the lawsuit.

“Unfortunately, unscrupulous landlords and their law firms will employ any number of tenant harassment tactics that could ultimately help boost their bottomline. This includes bringing meritless housing court actions against tenants for back rent that they know has been paid,” said Johnston.

Buddy Equities, which is managed by Jonas Equities, sold the 54-apartment building in Nov. 2016 for $16.4 million, records show, and is no longer responsible for the property.

“Any action initiated by this office was initiated in good faith based on the records,” said Larry Bernstein, vice president of Jonas Equities. “We intend to defend ourselves as we see this as frivolous.”

This article originally appeared in NY Daily News.