Controversy continues to swirl around a portfolio of buildings where tenants have alleged harassment by their landlord.
A Stop Work Order was issued, and later rescinded, recently at one of the buildings, 1135 Pelham Parkway North, where many tenants are in an uproar over what they believe is harassment by their landlord and attempts at unlawful evictions.
They currently have had to live without gas for about a month.
The landlord denies their allegations, and said that the gas outage was the result of an accident.
“The Stop Work Order was issued for a gas piping installation in a public corridor that exceeded the scope of work allowed by their permit,” stated a Department of Buildings spokesman in an e-mail. “The order has since been rescinded after the owner came into compliance.”
According to Senator Jeff Klein, tenants at the building had been without gas for at least 29 days.
Klein believes long-time and rent-controlled residents are being encouraged to move through a series of allegations by the landlord of non-payment of rent that result in time-draining trips to housing court.
The senator said that the tenants contacted his office over a year ago after Goldfarb Properties purchased four Pelham Parkway buildings in his district.
Goldfarb began gut-rehabbing all of the buildings almost simultaneously, harassing tenants, said Klein.
“Quite frankly what he was doing was harassing the tenants in the hope that they will leave and he could de-stabilize (rent-stabilized) apartments, or at the very least get a 20% bonus which you are entitled to for every new tenant,” said Klein.
Senator Klein is now calling for an investigation of Phillip Goldfarb.
The SWO came after intervention by the senator and a Tenant Harassment Prevention Task Force run by Attorney General Eric Schniederman.
A tenant leader at 1135 Pelham Parkway North, Andrew Goebel, hailed the Stop Work Order when it was issued.
“We are very grateful to Senator Klein for the great strides he has made against these very terrible and troublesome landlords,” said Goebel.
A Goldfarb spokeswoman said in a statement that “any allegations of tenant harassment are false and unfounded.”
“Goldfarb Properties is a family-owned business that takes pride in providing the best possible housing to its residents,” the Goldfarb representative stated in e-mail. “We continue to work diligently to improve the buildings that we purchased in 2014, that have suffered from decades of neglect.”
The Goldfarb representative stated that gas was turned off at the building on Monday, June 8 when electricians upgrading service to the building accidently caused a gas leak. Hotplates were provided to all tenants, she stated.
The Goldfarb representative also stated that two days after the accident, DOB issued a permit to a licensed plumber to make required safety checks and any necessary repairs, which have now all been completed, and that as of press time they are waiting for Con Edison to turn on the gas upon completion of its safety inspection.
The buildings in Klein’s district that are owned by Goldfarb are 1135 Pelham Parkway North, 1130 Pelham Parkway South, 1540 Pelham Parkway South and 2160-2166 Matthews Avenue.
Tenants of the four buildings rallied on Monday, June 22 to call attention to the condition of the properties.