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Rent-stabilized tenants tell tale of extreme landlord coercion

On Behalf of | Jul 25, 2018 | Rent Increase |

Data exist to mark and lend understanding of the turnover rate in the legions of rent-stabilized buildings across New York City. When one complex features notably higher-than-average departures, it can be telling evidence of unusual — even abnormal – circumstances.

Consider the story surrounding the Austin Nichols House, a multi-dwelling complex in the Williamsburg area of Brooklyn termed as “coveted” in a recent national media profile. The building, which was once a bourbon warehouse, was converted some years back into rent-stabilized apartments for 338 tenants. 

President Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and other business partners bought the building in 2015, and a number of tenants and critics have consistently stated since then that Kushner Cos. has engaged in unlawful tactics to oust them and convert the building entirely into high-priced luxury condos.

Reportedly, that strategy has worked. The Washington Post states that more than 250 tenants have left since the new owners began virtual, non-stop and highly disruptive construction.

“They won, they succeeded,” said one displaced resident.

A lawsuit is now moving forward that accuses Kushner Cos. of pushing out tenants by purposefully pursuing harassing and otherwise unlawful tactics. Among other things, it contends that that the owners created conditions rendered unlivable by constant noise, dust and smoke. An independent dust sample recently taken at the building showed alarmingly high levels of cancer-causing agents.

Himmelstein, McConnell, Gribben, Donoghue & Joseph attorneys work with and are close allies of the Housing Rights Initiative. Aaron Carr, the founder and director of that advocacy group, recently stated that, among all the rent-stabilized premises his organization has examined, the Austin Nichols House “is one of the worst we’ve seen.”

The above-cited lawsuit seeks $10 million in damages.

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