Tenants Living Amid Rubble in Rent-Regulated Apartment War


The letter from the landlord said he needed access to the apartments for a couple of weeks to make repairs.

The worker who showed up the next morning was armed with a sledgehammer and an electric saw, the tenants said, and took just hours to destroy the kitchens and the bathrooms. When the worker was done, the tenants in 1L could see the building’s basement through the remnants of their kitchen floor.

Eight months later, the kitchens and bathrooms in Apartments 1L and 1R, two rent-stabilized units on the ground floor of a six-unit building in Bushwick, Brooklyn, are still a gutted mess of exposed beams and debris. And the tenants and the landlord are locked in a standoff that underscores the anxiety coursing through changing neighborhoods, where many landlords are trying to capitalize on New York City’s robust real estate market while many lower-income tenants wonder how long they will be able to hold on to their homes.

“Our only sin is to have lived here for a long time,” said Carlos Calero, 52, a supervisor at a recycling company who pays $706 a month for the two-bedroom apartment he shares with his wife, two children and two young grandchildren.

Full article New York Times 25 February 2014