We Have A New Contestant For the Worst Landlord In Brooklyn

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We thought for sure we’d found him with that news a couple weeks back about an East New York property owner literally locking city workers out of his boiler room to prevent repairs, but then, there are always new contestants in this never-ending race to the bottom. So, here’s one from Bushwick!

 Brooklyn Bureau reported on a rally this weekend against a Bushwick landlord who, in an attempt to force out old, rent-stabilized tenants and rent out his apartments at the neighborhood’s astronomical new prices, tore out their kitchen and bathrooms under the guise of renovations, and never bothered to put them back. Tenants—including elderly residents with arthritis and kidney problems—have been forced to use their neighbors’ kitchens and bathrooms for months. A small child in one of the apartments contracted pneumonia, which was exacerbated by the unlivable conditions.

Complaints to the Department of Buildings, Department of Housing Preservation and Development, and even an attempt to take the landlord to court have come up short, and a longtime tenant said, “We want the city, we want the mayor, we want everyone to help us out because the conditions are horrible. It’s been seven months of hell, honestly.”

Apparently, creating “hell” for his tenants is standard operating procedure for the building’s landlord, Joel Israel:

Israel owns at least nine buildings in Brooklyn, according to HPD and real estate documents. Six of those have over 300 open violations, according to HPD. Over 100 of these are C Class violations – the most serious type of violation, such as rodent infestation, lead paint, or a lack of basic services like heat, hot water, or electricity. There are 59 C Class violations at 98 Linden St. alone, mostly in Calero and Crespo’s apartments.

At 324 Central Ave., the residents have no heat in the middle of winter, and Israel has refused to allow inspectors into the building, according to Sister Kathy Maire, the executive director of BHIP.

“He is making life awful for them,” she said.

Which, yes, all of that sounds like an absolute nightmare. Here’s hoping this’ll end like the last terrible landlord story we heard: with dude getting carted off to jail. We hear judges tend to have a little sympathy for, say, children and the elderly. More than this guy does, anyway.

Follow Virginia K. Smith on Twitter @vksmith.

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