East New York Clients Protest Rent Overcharge and Horrible Conditions; Legal Aid Sues

The Legal Aid Society filed suit against a landlord, listed as one of the City’s worst by the Public Advocate, for overcharging tenants.

Judith Goldiner, the Attorney-in-Charge of the Civil Law Reform Unit, told the media that conditions in the East New York building are horrendous.

East New York tenants fighting city's 'worst landlord'
August 27, 2015

EAST NEW YORK - Tenants in East New York are fighting back against the landlord deemed the city's worst by the public advocate's list.

The building at 650 New Jersey Ave. is owned by Michael Slochowsky, and has several open violations with the Department of Buildings. Issues cited in the building include exposed outlets, holes in the ceiling and an out-of-place stairwell bannister, among others.

The tenants' attorneys filed suit against the landlord to force repairs and to declare that the building is still rent-stabilized. The attorneys say Slochowsky overcharged tenants because he exploited a loophole to destabilize the rent.

"Tenants have been receiving a preferential rent of anywhere from $1,300 to $1,400," says Jim McCormick, of Legal Services New York. "Because they are no longer protected by the rent stabilization code, they can be revoked at any point, so... they could be hit with market rates rent of $2,700, $3,000."

News 12 spoke with Slochowsky, who says that the allegations are untrue and he does not want to comment any further.

If the tenants win the lawsuit, their landlord would have to repay them for rent overcharges.

Brooklyn residents fight landlord over building in disrepair amid rent hike
Renee Stoll
Thursday, August 27, 2015

EAST NEW YORK (WABC) -- Residents in Brooklyn are fighting their landlord over a building they say is falling apart, all while he tries to raise their rent.

The tenants say the landlord is illegally charging more than he should, and a rally was held Thursday.

Tammy Kainessie lives with her disable mother in one of six units at 650 New Jersey Avenue in East New York.

"By not repairing he's trying to push us out," she said. "When it rains, it leaks. It does not leak out clear water, it leaks out brown water."

She, along with the other families living in the building, are going after their landlord, Michael Slochowsky. Lawyers representing the tenants in a lawsuit say he allegedly deregulated their rent-controlled apartments as far back as 2002 and is trying to hike up the rent for a building in disrepair.

"They were recognized as rent stabilized, but through these successive false registrations, he was able to artificially inflate them," said Jim McCormick, of South Brooklyn Legal Services, Legal Services New York. "To the point that they were raised over $2,000 and taken out of rent stabilization."

For months and in some cases years, tenants have been complaining about banisters that are barely connected to the walls and large holes in the ceiling that drip water every time it rains.

"The stick, we keep up there, because you can come climb on this fire escape, and you can lift it right up and come in if you want," Kainessie said. "It does not lock, and it falls out...It has been like this for three years."

There are dangerous holes in railings, and tenants say the front door lock malfunctions, sometimes locking residents in or out. Eyewitness News attempted to contact the landlord but have not heard back.

According to the city, he has nearly 200 violations connected to the building. Slochowsky owns other buildings in Brooklyn, with dozens of tenants, also with violations.

"It's the state of New York that governs rent regulations, and the state of New York does very little oversight of what landlords are doing," said Judith Goldiner, of the Legal Aid Society.

East New York Tenants Protest Living Conditions; Lawsuit Filed Against Landlord
August 27, 2015

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Tenants at 650 New Jersey Ave. in East New York say their building is a wreck inside and out.

“You can see the water, where it damages the building, and it does not stop there,” one woman, who lives on the top floor with her disabled mother, told 1010 WINS’ Juliet Papa.

“Up over her bed, there’s a big leakage,” the woman added. “And when it rains, it pours. So then I have to go into her room, move her bed over, put a bucket there, call them and wait for months for them to come.”

Tenants, meanwhile, held a protest outside the building, chanting, “Housing is a right!”

Brooklyn legal aid lawyers are suing landlord Michael Sakowski over not only the needed repairs, but also because they say he illegally deregulated the building, leading to rent overcharges.

There are broken bannisters in the building and holes under the stairwell, Papa reported.

Afya Hamilton said she moved her family there a year ago and the apartment was supposed to be renovated.

“It’s a butcher job. I could do a better job, if you ask me,” she said.

So far, there have been no repairs to Hamilton’s windows that won’t lock, faulty electrical outlets or a hole in the floor.

“This is one of the worst landlords in New York City,” said Judith Goldiner of the Legal Aid Society. “The conditions in this building are really horrendous.”