Brooklyn landlords illegally harassed, targeted rent-stabilized tenants: suit

A group of Brooklyn tenants have filed a federal lawsuit against two landlords, accusing the defendants of illegally trying to force them out of their rent-stabilized apartments to make room for new renters who pay market rates.

The Flatbush Development Corporation and the Flatbush Tenants Coalition, along with 11 named tenants, filed the housing discrimination case Monday in Brooklyn federal court.

They’re seeking unspecified damages, according to the suit.

Most of the plaintiffs — who live in three buildings on Hawthorne Ave. and Brooklyn Ave. in Prospect Lefferts Gardens — have resided in the complex for decades, according to court documents.

The suit alleges that landlords Yeahaya “Shay” Wasserman and Yitzchock Rambod, Homewood Gardens Estates LLC and Eastern Hawthorne Realty 651 LLC have violated the Fair Housing Act as well as city and state human rights laws.

The landlords targeted longstanding black tenants who lived in rent-stabilized apartments, the suit contends.

The plaintiffs pay anywhere from $600 to $1,400 a month for 52 three-bedroom units in the three buildings, according to the lawsuit.

Calls to the offices of Wasserman and Rambod were not returned Tuesday. Their office at Eastern Hawthorne Realty was closed for Passover, a sign said.

The tenants, represented by lawyers from Legal Services NYC, say they were the victims of a systematic pattern of harassment, neglect and frivolous housing lawsuits designed to force them out to make room for new tenants paying double the rent.

The group claims the landlords, who bought the buildings in 2009, have neglected to do repairs in black-occupied units.

The defendants have also taken tenants to housing court with falsified claims and left rent checks uncashed in an attempt to evict rent-stabilized residents, the lawsuit asserts.

Black tenants were also forced to get rid of pets and washing machines, the suit says.

Full article in The Daily News, Brooklyn Section (15 April 2014)