Residents of the Woodmansten, at 1541-51 Williamsbridge Road, at the corner of Sackett Avenue, believe their landlord falsified paperwork that will permit him to seek rent increases in the future.
The landlord, MarkScharfman, owner of 1541 Williamsbridge Realty LLC, has been accused, by both the tenants and Councilman James Vacca, of misrepresentation on a NYC Department of Buildings application concerning renovations currently taking place at the elevatored pre-war building.
According to Paulette Sorg, president of the Williamsbridge Tenants Association, when applying for the rent increases Scharfman allegedly stated that the apartments in the building were not rent controlled.
However she claims they are.
By stating the apartments are not rent controlled, Scharfman would be permitted to raise rents after the renovations were completed.
In addition, according to Sorg, the landlord stated on the application that the apartments undergoing renovation were vacant at the time.
Sorg, a 70-year resident of the 6-story, 125-unit building, said that all renovations were performed while the apartments were occupied.
She added that even though the construction workers wore masks to protect themselves from the dust associated with the work, the residents were left exposed the whole time.
Vacca said he is working with the tenants to rectify the situation and get to the bottom of their charges.
Vacca said the tenants deserve “greater cooperation and more transparency” from their landlord.
He also said he’s available to mediate the matter between the landlord and the tenants, a process he has successfully conducted in the past.
The councilman acknowledged he has not personally met with Scharfman but would be open to meeting with him.
However, work in the building must be halted first, he said.
Sorg said she is surprised that work is still going on even though Scharfman was hit with a violation for the misstatements on his DOB application.
As of Wednesday, August 10 work was still going on in the building. Vacca said he plans to have an inspector visit the building.
Sorg and resident William Mojica are pursuing a class action lawsuit against Scharfman.
Mojica said he “doesn’t like seeing (tenant) abuse.”
He added Scharfman “can’t just go (into apartments) and do whatever he wants.”
Mojica said prior to the start of renovations, Scharfman’s representatives spoke to the residents at a meeting held in the lobby.
Mojica said Scharfman’s employees threatened lawsuits and eviction if residents did not provide access to their apartments for the renovations.
The renovations include plumbing, electrical and gas upgrades, roof repair, window replacements, along with other interior and exterior work.
They are currently awaiting word from an attorney on whether or not a class-action lawsuit against Scharfman is feasible.
The Bronx Times contacted Scharfman’s office, but he declined comment.