Tenants sue to end landlord 'harassment'
A landlord called police on tenant meetings, took down Chinese New Year decorations on apartment doors and refused to do repairs, according to lawsuits filed by 19 Chinatown residents yesterday.
Elected officials, community organizers and attorneys announced the lawsuits in front of the apartment buildings with the tenants, many holding signs in English and Chinese.
"Its absolutely unacceptable for landlords to come in and try to get to that point where they can cash in off of the suffering of tenants," said state Sen. Daniel Squadron (D-Manhattan), who represents Chinatown. "The idea you cant celebrate your religious and cultural history in a building in New York City is shocking."
The residents, who live at 55 and 61 Delancey St., sued under the Tenant Protection Act, passed by the City Council last year. A lawyer for the tenants said the suits could end the alleged harassment, levy fines against the landlord and force the owner to make repairs.Tenant representatives said the police were called on tenant meetings three times last year. Three separate 911 calls were made on the dates--August 14 and 19 and September 17--and no summons or arrests resulted, police said.
"Theres been so much change in the neighborhood in the last few years," Zhi Qin Zheng, one of the tenants in the suit, said through a translator. "We have to stand up and fight for whats ours. If we dont, this area will be picked clean."
An attorney for the landlord, Madison Capital, located at East 59th Street, said the company will address the needs of every tenant and the actions of some of the residents are regrettable and meritless. Since the company took over the buildings in April, more than $550,000 has been spent on common-area renovations, repairs and security, the attorney said in a statement, which did not address the 911 calls.
"Madisons goal is to provide a clean and safe environment to all of its tenants who call the property home," the statement said.