Tenants return to 300 Nassau after 31 months!
On the sunny Saturday morning of July 23, the cloud that had been hanging over 300 Nassau was lifted. This metaphorical cloud represented the adversity filled years three rent stabilized tenants suffered when forced out of their homes and into housing limbo due to the construction harassment initiated by their landlord. Thanks to Brooklyn Legal Services Corporation A, St. Nicks Alliance, and a locksmith, these rightful tenants received access to their homes the morning of July 23, 2016.
Brooklyn Legal Services Corporation A’s Adam Meyers stated that the necessary repairs and renovations to make the building habitable again had been completed for some time. However, the tenants had been waiting for the city to make this official by lifting the vacate order before they moved back in. After a reasonable amount of time had passed with no sign the city was going to move anytime soon, St. Nicks Alliance and Brooklyn Legal A decided to take some action to gently nudge the city in a just direction.
The tenants of Apartment 3L were the first to have access to their home. 4-year-old Bryceson jumped for joy and said, “I Love my new house!” Little did he know, this was his first home.
Bryceson was only around one year old when his family and the tenants living in 1R and 1L were forced to leave 300 Nassau. A vacate order was issued due to intentional damage done to the building to make it uninhabitable so these remaining tenants would move out. The tenants in turn sued their landlords, Aaron and Joel Israel, claiming they were behind the destruction as a way to get the rent stabilized tenants out so market rate tenants could move in.
The Israel Brothers have a history of appearing on the Worst Landlords List, and in April 2015 they were charged with fraud for the building harassment they used on their rent stabilized tenants at three of their buildings. The Israel’s are extremely litigious and filed a continuous series of motions to delay the ruling of the case and hence delay the return home of the 300 Nassau tenants .
Bryceson’s mom, Catalina Hildago, said she’d lived at 300 Nassau for 10 years, and paid around $760 monthly rent. When asked where she’s been in the interim she said she found a comparable place in Bushwick, but her rent there was $2600.
Martha Vargas of St. Nicks Alliance’ Community Preservation Unit first heard of the troubles at 300 Nassau four years ago when Catalina’s mother told her of the conditions of her daughter’s building: repairs weren’t getting done, the entry stairs were hazardous, etc. When Vargas visited the building other tenants reached out to her for help. Brooklyn Legal A came on board when the vacate order was initiated. Martha said this is the 2nd “Break-in” St. Nicks Alliance and Brooklyn Legal services A have overseen. The other happened this past January at 119 Guernsey, for similar reasons. The Guernsey tenants are still in their homes.
The City lifted the vacate order and the Mayor wrote letters to each of the tenants who kept fighting to stay in their homes.
In August 2017 the City Council and Mayor de Blasio signed eleven of the twelve bills in the Stand for Tenant Safety Legislation, which adds further protections for tenants from landlords who would use illegal construction to intimidate them to move out.