Standing in front of 1135 Pelham Parkway North joined by Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj and many local community activists and residents State Senator Jeff Klein speaks on the issue of tenant harassment by unscrupulous landlords in the Bronx.
As rent law negotiations loom large, Klein calls for crooked landlords to be stripped of vacancy bonus
Hundreds of Bronx tenants forced out of rent-stabilized apartments while greedy landlords pad their pockets
Senator Jeff Klein (D-Bronx/Westchester), together with Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj (D-Bronx), Director of Housing and Community Development at the Neighborhood Initiatives Development Corporation Hazel Miura, community activists and nearly 100 Bronx tenants, today called on New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, the Tenant Harassment Prevention Task Force and the New York State Department of Housing and Community Renewal (DHCR) to investigate Bronx slumlords Martin Scharf and Phillip Goldfarb for the flagrant harassment and unlawful eviction of residents at 3555 Bruckner Boulevard and the Goldfarb Properties in The Bronx.
As rent law negotiations continue in Albany, Klein also called on the New York State legislature to enact sweeping reforms that strip bad actors of vacancy bonuses.
Senator Klein said, “No tenant should be the target of illegal discrimination or systematic harassment by dishonest, scamming landlords while trying to make a home for themselves and their families. New York State law currently provides landlords with numerous incentives to evict tenants and raise rents. Let me be clear: this type of profit motive has no place in state law. That’s why I’m calling on the New York State Tenant Harassment Prevention Task Force to investigate and address all tenant harassment complaints at these properties. My proposal also seeks to strip abusive landlords of vacancy bonuses and any allowable rent increases. I look forward to working together with my colleagues in state government to strengthen and protect the rights of all tenants across New York.”
Assemblyman Gjonaj said, "The tenants in these buildings have endured months of harassment, reduction of services and disruptions that have negatively impacted their lives. The property owners have shown absolutely no respect or consideration for the families that live in these buildings. I hold the property owners responsible for their actions and fight for the tenants that seek to live in a safe, comfortable and peaceful home."
Klein’s call echoes the cry of hundreds of Bronx tenants who have been forced out of their homes by Goldfarb and Scharf. For more than a year, residents at the Goldfarb Properties have been the victim of persistent threats by management, dragged to court under false filings, received non-rent regulated lease renewals and had their rents both unfairly and substantially increased. Mr. Goldfarb has repeatedly endangered the health and welfare of tenants – cutting off all elevator access for elderly and disabled residents, removing security systems and pulling out gas lines in his buildings.
Similar transgressions have occurred at 3555 Bruckner Blvd., where Mr. Scharf and Abro Management have intimidated tenants, refused to make repairs to units, failed to properly credit rent reductions and served residents with false eviction notices. Several tenants received threats from management after reporting the lack of building maintenance to 311.
Currently, tenant harassment is prohibited under the Administrative Code of the City of New York and enforced by DHCR. With a clear lack of action exhibited by the oversight agency in recent months, coupled with the arrest of crooked Brooklyn landlord Daniel Melamed last week, Senator Klein is calling on the Tenant Harassment Prevention Task Force to investigate and review all Goldfarb Properties and 3555 Bruckner Blvd. harassment claims filed within the last year.
Senator Klein is also urging the state legislature to strip predatory landlords of any incentives to evict rent-stabilized tenants, including:
- Eliminating the statutory vacancy bonus – an additional 20% rental increase landlords can levy on tenants every time an apartment turns over. Abusive landlords found guilty of tenant harassment in the previous calendar year would be prohibited from increasing rents on any apartment unit in the building where the incident of harassment took place.
In 2009, Senator Klein passed landmark legislation that provided New York State with the toughest tenant protection laws in the nation. Penalties for landlords found in violation of DHCR rules and regulations increased from $250 to $1,000 for the first offense, and $1,000 to $2,000 for the second offense. Fines were also strengthened for landlords found guilty of any form of tenant harassment – regardless of whether their actions were intended to drive tenants from their homes – from $1,000 to $2,000 for the first offense, and $5,000 to $10,000 for subsequent offenses.
Andrew Goebel, Tenant Leader at 1135 Pelham Parkway North said, “I decided to form a tenant association for the purpose of keeping myself and my tenants free from harassment by Goldfarb Properties. Unfortunately, Goldfarb prefers to run their property management company using intimidation, harassment and frivolous lawsuits filed against tenants with the hopes of evicting us from of our rent-controlled apartments. When I met Senator Klein last year, and he listened to our complaints, a suggestion he made which we all pray for is the dismantling of Goldfarb Properties.”
According to Mr. Goebel 1135 had as many as 294 violations after the building was bought last year. currently he said there are 33 open violations at 1135 Pelham Parkway North, as he holds the stack of open violations.
A photo of what is being done to tenants. Terraces are being stripped to the foundation by workers who are wearing protective face gear from possible lead paint or other contaminants that the tenants are not being given.
Here you can see what the terrace looked like before being completely taken apart by workers. There were also complaints of lack of water and heat during winter months, and lack of elevator service all in the name of getting rent controlled tenants to move out so the rent could be increased by the 20% vacancy rule instead of the single digit yearly increases by the rent guidelines board.