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‘I fear for my life’: Prospect Lefferts Gardens tenants living with mold while landlord fixes units for Airbnb

Tenants are suing their landlord, claiming they renovated units to sell on Airbnb, while longtime residents are forced to dwell amid mold and other hazards.
Brooklyn Paper
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A family of Prospect Lefferts Gardens “slum lords” is raking in the dough by renting out renovated apartments on Airbnb, while lease-holding tenants suffer a brutal harassment campaign amid disgusting, illegal, and unsafe buildings conditions, according to a civil complaint filed in Kings County Supreme Court.

“Sometimes I come home and the lights don’t come on. ” said Digna Doesserie-Mitchel, a longtime resident of 611 Flatbush Ave. “How is the landlord going to fix up these other apartments for Airbnb and not maintain the rest of the building? We deserve better than this.”

Tenants living in three Flatbush Avenue buildings located between Rutland Road and Fenimore Street claim they’ve been forced to endure noxious mold, crumbling walls, unreliable power, heat and hot water, defective appliances, and leaking pipes due to the negligence of the landlord, the Shasho family, which has resulted in inspectors dolling out 220 open housing violations.

Additionally, the Department of Housing Preservation and Development placed one of the buildings — 607 Flatbush Ave. — on its list of the city’s most notorious crap holes, the dreaded Alternative Enforcement Program.

But that hasn’t stopped the Sasho clan from investing in renovations for at least five unoccupied units within their otherwise blighted properties, which they’ve advertised on Airbnb as “spectacular,” “spacious,” and “beautifully sun-filled spaces” alongside images of chandleries and sparkling new appliances, according to the plaintiffs.

But the gallery of charmingly furnished and tastefully decorated hotel rooms belie the hazards awaiting unwary tourists, according to one tenant of 607 Flatbush Ave., who said she lives in constant fear of fire as a result of the building’s poor condition.

“I fear for my life,” said Elizabeth Hayes, 65, who has been a tenant since 1981. “It’s the not knowing that make me afraid. This building is unsafe.”

The Shasho clan has done everything it can to scare off its remaining tenants, who enjoy modest annual rent increases as a result of the city’s rent stabilization laws, including replacing busted fridges and ovens with appliances harboring dead rats and cockroach infestations, according to the suit.

The residents are looking for a judge to step in and stop the harassment, force repairs to the building, and some monetary compensation for their trouble, according to Seth Hoy, a spokesman for the Tenants Rights Coalition, which is representing the tenants.

A man who answered a number for William Shasho, who’s listed as the owner for 599 Flatbush Ave., claimed he was not a member of the Shasho family, which could not be reached.

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at cmixson@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4505.
Posted 12:00 am, April 18, 2019
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Reasonable discourse

Mike from Williamsburg says:
I wonder how low their rent is and if perhaps they'd like to trade.
April 18, 8:51 am
How much are they paying from NYC says:
Can't expect a landlord to maintain apartments that are not producing market rent. If maintenance costs and real estate taxes are at market price, the rent should be too. Money doesn't grow on trees. If the government wants to impose rent stabilization on landlords, then government should pay the difference to the landlords.
April 18, 10:42 am
What's the truth? from Sunset Park says:
I have a tenant doing the same thing. Filing complaints and saying I'm trying to get rid of them because I'm spending money on the other apartments and not theirs. The truth is that they are not letting us in to fix the "problems", much of which is caused by them leaving windows open and allowing rain to come in and overflowing sinks, showers and toilets. From what we can see when they leave the door open a crack, their place is a mess, garbage everywhere and they clearly don't want it documented. The city should require photos of and entire apartment, provided by independent licensed professionals, to document the whole situation, not just the parts the tenant wants to tell - and if they fail to do so, the complaint should get rejected. Things are not always as people make it appear - no different than this papers reporter and headlines that attempt to persuade the reader against the landlord.
April 18, 11:29 am
JJOE from PLG says:
Are we lacking details here? How are landlords legally allowed to use any apartments solely for Air n B?? That’s called a hotel. It is 100% impossible any claim they couldn’t get permanent resident tenants. Apartments in PLG are very much in demand; people are asking around and willing to pay decent market rate amounts and still not finding available units. These landlords seem to be holding the apartments from the open market for larger Air n B profits and simultaneously driving up demand and subsequently all other rents in the area. Disgusting. I never resent or begrudge somebody earning the most they can from their investments but play by the rules. If you don’t you’re a criminal. NYC needs to wake up to this scheme and crack down.
April 19, 8:36 am

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