‘Tenant Harassment Prevention Task Force’ Raids Samy Mahfar Properties on the LES

Posted on: May 8th, 2015 at 10:21 am by
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That newfangled Tenant Harassment Prevention Task Force first announced last year finally got its shit together, and is reportedly on the offensive against SMA Equities. The alphabet soup of city agencies (DOB, FDNY, HPD, etc.) coordinated a “raid” against several Samy Mahfar-owned buildings on the Lower East Side on Wednesday afternoon, we are told.

One tenant tells us that the sting was “basically a raid, with agency cars all over the street and, boom, they went in and were everywhere all at once.” 22 Spring and 102 Norfolk were confirmed targets in the sweep.

However, the fruits of this action are not completely known at the moment. Thus far, only a measly violation in 102 Norfolk is listed in the DOB database, for “defective wiring in apartment 23.”

To be honest, it’s great that the city agencies are finally responding as a united front. This targeted maneuver is kinda late, though. Where was the show of force when asbestos was reported on the roof of 113 Stanton or when excessive lead levels past the federal limit were detected at 102 Norfolk and 210 Rivington? In the interim, most of the hazards across these four properties (i.e. excessive lead dust) have largely been cleaned up. From what we understand, there’s a general lull in work across the properties.

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22 Spring St.

Here is more about the Tenant Harassment Prevention Task Force from a recent press release:

Tenant harassment complaints in Housing Court have nearly doubled since 2011. The task force will confront the rise in complaints that landlords are using a variety of tactics, including disruptive and dangerous renovation and construction projects, to force tenants into vacating rent-regulated apartments.

Previously, when owners have neglected their buildings and allowed them to fall into extreme disrepair, the NYC Department of Buildings and Department of Housing Preservation and Development have used their enforcement powers to ensure compliance with housing and building codes, while cases involving harassment and rent regulation have been handled by New York State’s Division of Homes & Community Renewal Tenant Protection Unit (TPU), which was created by Governor Cuomo in 2012 to investigate landlord patterns and practices of harassment and illegal profiteering. The new task force will conduct joint cellar-to-roof inspections, coordinate enforcement actions, and when necessary speed the prosecution of predatory landlords who purposefully distress properties as a form of harassment in order to displace tenants and deregulate rent-stabilized apartments.

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