A recent occurrence should encourage landlords offering Bronx rentals to take a little more responsibility for their properties. A judge in the Bronx Housing Court finally ordered the arrest of a local landlord for his extreme negligence.
Joel Loutan owns a four unit building in the Bronx. Mr. Loutan has a history of not properly caring for his property. The building is reported to have a collapsed roof, leaking walls, rotten support beams, and broken boilers. In 2009, the building was placed in a program administered by the New York City Department of Housing and Property Development. This program, termed the Alternative Enforcement Program (AEP), is designed to use the power of the law to force landlords to make necessary repairs. The AEP ordered Mr. Loutan to replace the building’s collapsed roof, rewire the building’s electrical system, repair the outside walls, and replace the heating system. Mr. Loutan has continued to ignore these orders. In fact, both he and his attorney have completely missed several court appearances.
After nearly four years of this behavior, Judge Jerald Klein of the Bronx County Housing Court issued a warrant for his arrest. This is only the fifth time in an eight-year period that a warrant has been issued for a recalcitrant Bronx rental owner. More often, the AEP simply makes the repairs and then bills the landlord for the cost of the work. This landlord, however, has shown such blatant disregard for the law that arrest was the only solution.
An Isolated Incident?
Some tenant advocates claim that these types of situations are not as unusual as the statistics might indicate. One organizer for a local tenants’ union tells of many landlords who refuse to make the necessary repairs requested by their renters. To avoid legal action by the city, they eventually evict their current tenants, perform the needed renovations, and then raise the rates and attract a new group of renters. Tenant advocacy groups argue that the city is still not doing enough to protect residents of rental properties. The arrest warrant is good, they say, but it is sad that it took four years of the landlord’s irresponsible behavior before it was issued.
Does your residence have unsafe living conditions that your landlord refuses to address? You need an advocate that can represent your interests and advise you on your available options. The professionals of Witkon Law are ready to deal with Bronx rental situations and are happy to serve as your representatives in any necessary legal action. Contact the office today for a free consultation about your unfavorable living situation.