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Displaced tenant criticizes New York housing officials' inaction

Real estate legal arguments are often about money or broken promises. Commercial and residential lease disputes can center on unfair termination, non-payment rent proceedings, repair responsibility or other misunderstandings.

Over a year has passed since three families were ordered to leave an unsafe Manhattan apartment building where one tenant had lived for half a century. New York City housing officials evacuated the families to shelters after the landlord destabilized the building by removing walls illegally on the bottom floor.

The city's housing department told the rent-stabilized tenants it would be a matter of weeks until they could move back home. In the meantime, a 56-year-old wheelchair-dependent woman, her son and mother were forced to store their furniture at a costly rate and move to a restrictive shelter in a "high-crime area."

The landlord's first-floor construction caused wall cracks and floor collapses in the apartments above. The building owner, Kwik Realty LLC, ignored the city's order to repair the structure last year. The housing department told the tenants that if the landlord did not comply, the city would initiate repairs so residents could return.

Housing officials did not follow through with the promise, fine the landlord or initiate legal action until summer. The frustrated, disabled tenant contacted an attorney.

The tenant charges the city and landlord with negligence. The landlord's position is that the building's structural violations were caused by neglectful tenants who denied the landlord access. The tenant suspects the landlord wants the rent-stabilized tenants out to make room for new, high-rent paying residents. The woman planned to tell a Manhattan Housing Court that she has no plans to comply with that wish.

Landlords and tenants must abide by the rules they set in accordance with local and state housing laws. Violations by either party can lead to legal actions. Tenants can be under a lot of personal stress until disputes are resolved.


Source: 
nydailynews.com, "Gonzalez: NYC abandons displaced families from a building they were ordered to leave" Juan Gonzalez, Oct. 28, 2013

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