EAST NEW YORK — Tenants of an East New York apartment building are fighting back against poor living conditions in a lawsuit that claims their landlord has tried to raise rent while refusing to make repairs.
Residents at 650 New Jersey Ave. filed the complaint Thursday against Michael Slochowsky, accusing the landlord of overcharging them.
Slochowsky is listed on the city’s landlord watch list with hundreds of violations at three Brooklyn buildings.
Walls and ceilings at the six-unit residence are pockmarked with holes, and there are leaks that haven’t been fixed in months, tenants said.
Roaches and insects are a common sight, they said, adding that residents often go weeks without hot water and spend the winter months deprived of heat.
“Nobody responds,” said Tammy Kainessie, who has lived in a third-floor apartment with her mother for the past four years. “He doesn’t want to hear from us and I’m fed up with it.
“At one point we had bugs coming out of the wall. There’s a hole in the kitchen that leaks brown stuff when it rains.”
The conditions are taking a health toll on her and her mother, who relies on a breathing machine, she said.
Tenants also complained of non-working bathrooms, windows that need to be taped and propped up and toilets that cause leaks when flushed.
Holes in the walls, ceilings and staircase of 650 New Jersey Ave. go unfixed for months, residents said. Photo credit: DNAinfo/Camille Bautista
The building had 184 open violations with the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development as of Thursday, including for a defective front door lock and exposed electrical wiring.
More than 20 open Environmental Control Board violations exist for issues that include sagging floors, cracks throughout apartments and holes in ceilings, Department of Buildings records show.
Kainessie, 45, said she has been paying $1,300 a month since she moved to the building and was recently informed of a $50 increase.
Lawyers representing Kainessie’s mother and three other residents said Slochowsky has allegedly and unlawfully raised rents since 2002 to ultimately take the units out of rent stabilization.
Slochowsky declined to comment when contacted by DNAinfo New York.
In addition to the overcharge complaint filed in Kings County Supreme Court on Thursday, legal representatives said the tenants are looking to sue their landlord for the poor conditions and lack of repairs.
Cheryl Davidson said she waited at least six months before a sinking floor was fixed in her hallway.
“They’re no good,” she said of New River Realty Corp., the company for which Slochowsky is listed as head officer, according to court documents.
“He just wants it for the money and doesn’t care about the people."
Representatives of The Tenants Rights Campaign, a joint initiative of Legal Services NYC and the Legal Aid Society, said it partnered with New York Communities for Change to launch an anti-displacement initiative in East New York and Brownsville.
Coinciding with the filed complaint, group members are looking to hold landlords accountable for exploiting loopholes to deregulate apartments.
“We have every reason to believe this landlord is behaving like this,” said Judith Goldiner with the Legal Aid Society. “This is really just a tip of the iceberg in terms of problems.”