Victory for Low Income Tenants: Defiant Landlord Ordered to Jail by Bronx Housing Court Judge Jerald R. Klein
SUNDAY, JUNE 20, 2010

Bronx Housing Court Judge Jerald R. Klein ordered the arrest and incarceration of landlord Sam Suzuki for "his flagrant disregard of this Court’s Order and defiance of this Court’s authority" by failing to repair the hundreds of violations in the Bronx River apartment at 1585 East 172nd Street. For almost a year, Suzuki has defied the court and forced the tenants to live under "intolerable and dangerous conditions".

Lawyers for the tenants from The Legal Aid Society and the law firm of Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP hailed Judge Klein's decision as a major victory for low-income tenants.

"Instead of making the repairs that the Judge ordered back in July 2009, Suzuki continued to ignore Judge Klein's order and has allowed conditions in the building to continue to deteriorate and there are now 663 open violation in the building," said Jessica Bellinder, a staff attorney for The Legal Aid Society's Bronx Neighborhood Office. " The tenants are living in constant disrepair and discomfort. The roof leaks so badly it literally rain inside whenever it is raining outside. There is a whole line of apartments where leaks and problems with the heat and water systems have caused the walls to crack and floors to buckle severely posing a danger to everone who lives there but especially the young children."

"The tenants have won a victory with the incarceration of their negligent landlord. Judge Klein gave Mr. Suzuki every chance to cure the Housing Code violations but he defied the court’s authority and allowed the tenants to live in inhumane conditions," said Beatrice Hamza Bassey, a partner with Hughes Hubbard & Reed, which, with the Legal Aid Society of New York, is representing tenants in the case. "We hope that Judge Klein’s decision will serve as a warning for landlords of derelict properties throughout the city."

Suzuki is the Chief Executive Officer and founding principal of Hunter Property and the managing agent of the 49-unit building at 1585 East 172nd Street. The City's Department of Housing Preservation and Development is a co-respondent in the case.