Security Promised But Delayed | Long Island Landlord Tenant Lawyer

Tenants in one Bronx rental complex have had enough of delays and empty promises. Despite being taken over by the New York City Housing Authority, this facility still has serious deficits in its security and other important amenities.

The Tenants’ Complaint

Middletown Plaza is a senior housing facility located in the Bronx. It is a 15-story building with 178 apartments and was originally constructed in 1973.  The nearly two hundred seniors that live in this complex, however, are fed up with the facility’s deficiencies. For years, residents have been asking that security cameras be installed in the building’s elevators and hallways and also in the area around the complex. More than a year ago, the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) promised that they would address the security concerns as well as some other repair issues. In fact, as early as 2011, the city council designated funds to make the security improvements. Work started on the project in March, but the cameras are still not operational.

Additional Issues

In the meantime, other issues with the Bronx rental facility continue to develop. In June, rainstorms flooded the building, putting elevators out of commission and rendering stairwells unusable. With no accessible exits, some senior citizens were trapped in their apartments. Although it is perhaps the most flagrant example, the Middletown Plaza facility is not the only one with problems. The NYCHA runs a number of rental complexes around the city, serving more than 600,000 tenants. Many of these residents have serious issues with the city’s management of their buildings. In fact, one mayoral candidate questioned why so many NYCHA buildings were in disrepair when the Authority has nearly $700 million available for its use.

Implications

Facilities in disrepair and poor landlord response to tenant complaints are problems that are not unique to this Bronx rental facility. It is reasonable to expect better things from a city-run housing authority, but in reality these issues are common to many tenants across New York City. It is important that landlords and management companies be held responsible to provide reasonable accommodations and security measures for their residents. Putting off or delaying repairs must be addressed by legal action, if necessary.

If you find yourself in a situation similar to the tenants of this Bronx rental complex, you need a lawyer who will help to protect your interests. David Witkon Law has experience working on behalf of New York area tenants to deal with difficult landlords. Contact our office today for a free consultation about your situation.

Living in Fear of Eviction | Long Island Eviction Lawyer

To residents in Suffolk County, eviction is a dreaded threat. Not only does it remove them from their home, but having an eviction on their record can make it nearly impossible for them to find another affordable place to rent. A new trend sweeping the nation’s cities could give them yet another reason to be fearful of this outcome.

Nuisance Property Ordinance

Many cities have passed or are considering laws known as nuisance property ordinances. These laws are designed to deal with neighborhoods that have high crime rates. Under such ordinances, landlords are required to evict tenants if the property requires frequent visits from the police due to 911 calls from the tenants or neighbors. Although the laws sound good in theory, their application has resulted in some unexpected consequences.

A Case in Point

One single mother in Pennsylvania discovered firsthand how this legislation might affect some tenants. She had called 911 at various times because of an abusive boyfriend. After one call, the police told her that they would ask her landlord to evict her if they were called again. The abusive boyfriend was released from jail and showed up at her property demanding to stay. Rememberig the police’s warning, she felt that she had no choice but to let him in. Within a few days, there was another argument with the man that resulted in him attacking her with a broken ashtray. Despite the four-inch laceration on her neck, she begged her neighbor not to call 911 lest she be evicted. After she passed out, her neighbor called, and she was airlifted to the hospital for treatment. Despite her obvious injuries, city officials ordered her evicted from the property.

Evaluation of the Laws

Once the woman got the ACLU involved, the city backed down from its eviction demand, but these laws are still on the books in numerous other cities and towns. It may not be long before Suffolk County evictions are occurring on this basis as well. Although no one wants to live in a neighborhood with a crime-ridden property, there is some question as to whether penalizing residents for calling 911 is the right answer. Such laws seem to unfairly discriminate against battered women and minorities. They also make individuals hesitant to call the police when they need help. When the laws are used as the basis for an eviction, the affected parties have little or no legal recourse.

It is important for area residents to be aware of the guidelines governing Suffolk County evictions, and it is always a good idea to secure legal advice whenever you have a concern that your home may be in jeopardy. The attorneys of David Witkon Law are experienced in dealing with landlord tenant situations and can help you think through your available options. Contact the office today for a free consultation.

What is the Tenant Fair Chance Act? | Long Island Landlord Tenant Lawyer

Individuals looking for an apartment or house rental in Nassau County or other parts of New York City have a new law to help them. But, although the law has been on the books for a few years, not all landlords are in compliance with its provisions

Its Background

The Tenant Fair Chance Act came about as the result of a class action lawsuit filed in 2006. The suit was brought against a company called First Advantage SafeRent, Inc. (FAS). The company is one of many that perform background checks on potential tenants for New York City landlords. One part of the check involves determining if the individual had been involved in any housing court cases. The lawsuit alleged that FAS provided only part of the information on individual’s court histories. Their reports did not include important information such as whether the tenant’s actions against their former landlord were found by the court to be justified. Since New York City court cases are identified only by individuals’ names, some background reports falsely stated that a prospective tenant had been involved in housing court when actually it was another individual with the same name. FAS lost the lawsuit and was required to pay $1.9 million. The Tenant Fair Chance Act was passed to help protect potential tenants from being unfairly blacklisted as undesirable renters.

Its Provisions

Under the Tenant Fair Chance Act, an owner of a rental in Nassau County and throughout New York City must inform potential tenants if they use an agency to perform background checks. The landlord must include this information on the rental application along with the agency’s full name and address. If a landlord rejects a rental applicant based on information obtained from that agency, the individual has a right to see and challenge the report.

Its Application

Tenant Background Search is a Texas-based firm that handles the screening process for many New York City landlords. This organization recently urged its clients to ensure that they are in compliance with the Tenant Fair Chance Act. Failing to provide the required information opens landlords up to serious legal action. In actuality, the new law has positive effects for both tenants and landlords. Tenants can defend themselves against unjustified blacklisting. Landlords can rent to good tenants who might otherwise have been mistakenly disqualified.

An experienced landlord tenant lawyer may be necessary at several points along the process of rental in Nassau County. Landlords should have a qualified attorney review their paperwork and procedures to make sure that they are compliance with the law. Individuals who have encountered a landlord that failed to follow the provisions of the law should seek counsel as to legal action that might be necessary. Potential tenants who were wrongly rejected definitely need legal help to challenge the screening company and clear their good name. If you find yourself in any of these situations, contact the law office of David Witkon today for a free consultation.

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Tenants Stuck Outside for Months | Long Island Landlord Tenant Lawyer | Attorney

English: Looking east across 33d St at former ...

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For any group of tenants in Long Island, eviction is always a fear, even if a distant one. Typically, however, the landlord initiates an eviction. When tenants are instead removed from their dwellings by the city, the results can be devastating.

81 Bowery

In Chinatown on Bowery Street, there is a single-room occupancy tenement. It is rent controlled and occupied mainly by Chinese immigrants. They live in tiny cubicles and share a bathroom with other tenants, paying $200 a month for the privilege. But despite these cramped conditions, they consider their dwellings home and have built close relationships with the other residents

Unfortunately for these individuals, the owners of their building have a history of poor property management and have been cited with numerous code violations. In November of 2008, the city ruled the tenement too hazardous for occupancy and expelled the residents from their homes. Nine months later, they were finally permitted to return. Despite this incident, management continued to neglect the upkeep of the building.

Recent Events

On March 7, the history of this Manhattan eviction was repeated. The previous week, news station CNN had run a piece about the living conditions in the tenement. An Arizona viewer saw the report and called the city. In response, the city issued a vacate order. New York Fire Department personnel arrived at the building in the middle of the day when most residents were at work. They broke down the doors to all the rooms, and, as tenants returned home, informed them that must immediately leave the premises. The Red Cross offered shelter for a few days, but residents soon found themselves on the streets.

The Present

Now, more than four months later, these individuals are still homeless. Despite promises that management would address code violations within two weeks of the eviction, the building remains unsafe for occupancy. Tenants have organized protests to no avail. These individuals seem to have been overlooked and forgotten by both the city and their landlord. Only time will tell if they will again be able to obtain housing that is both safe and affordable.

There are things tenants can do to prevent this Long Island eviction story from repeating itself. It is vital for residents of a building to stay aware of the conditions of their dwelling and take steps to force landlords to deal with violations. If a landlord does not respond to requests, legal action must be taken before the living conditions become hazardous. If you have concerns about your landlord’s response to problems in your dwelling, you should protect yourself by seeking legal counsel immediately. The Long Island Landlord Tenant attorneys at Witkon Law are happy to help you consider your options. Don’t allow your landlord’s neglect to cause an eviction in Long Island. Contact Witkon Law today for a free consultation.

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What to Do When Your Landlord Doesn’t Make Repairs | Long Island Landlord Tenant Lawyer

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MIdwood1Condos (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Long Island Landlord Tenant Lawyer

Brooklyn landlord tenant relationships can have many issues, but a major one occurs when landlords do not adequately maintain or repair their rental units. Residents of one Brooklyn apartment building are taking legal action to deal with this problem.

Complaint of the Tenants

After dealing with issues since 2005, individuals living in the Midwood neighborhood of Brooklyn have finally had enough with their landlord. According to their reports, needed repairs are not being done, and the little work that is done is substandard and short-lived. One man’s oven has been out of order for over a month. Another resident complained of recurring problems with the building’s elevator, including a recent five-hour outage. The city has also recognized issues with the management of this complex. The building has more than 250 open violations for such things as a broken water line, defective ventilation in the garage, and a leaky roof. The tenants are suing the holding company for immediate repairs of all violations.

Defense of the Landlord

Despite these complaints, the management company alleges that they have done nothing wrong. The current management purchased the building in 2007 and blames many of the problems on poor maintenance by the previous owners. They state that they have spent more than $1.6 million on improvements and renovated 83 apartments since they acquired the building. According to the company, the majority of the open violations have been addressed, and they are unaware of any current complaints from the tenants. Obviously, residents who have complained to the building superintendent about peeling paint and leaking pipes find these statements rather hard to believe.

What Can Be Don

Regrettably, this situation is not isolated. Brooklyn landlord tenant relationships are often strained when management does not respond to repair requests. As this scenario makes clear however, tenants do have options when this problem occurs. The initial step is to ensure that the problem is not due to the tenant’s own neglect or abuse. Next, the resident must report the problem to the building superintendent and allow a reasonable time for a response. If the issue is not dealt with appropriately, the tenant has a number of options including contacting the city for a housing inspection, withholding rent to cover the repair cost, or suing the landlord. Before taking any of these steps, it is important for the tenant to safeguard himself by seeking legal counsel.

If your Brooklyn landlord tenant relationship has been harmed by this kind of situation, it is important to take action promptly. Contact the Witkon Law office today for a free consultation about your rights as a tenant and options for dealing with your unresponsive landlord.