Thank You National Apartment Association. I will do my best to get this very important information out ASAP to numerous owners, investors, huge property management companies (e.g., Riverstone Residential), attorneys, and judges, AND, of course, to the MANY people who are currently living in MOLD-INFESTED APARTMENT COMPLEXES right now! katy
By CARA BUCKLEY
May 19, 2010
The 49-unit apartment building in Bronx River has a tally of woes almost impressive in magnitude. It has 663 open violations. Its walls shed lead paint, rain seeps through collapsing ceilings, and cockroaches and rats scuttle across its buckled floors.
Now the building, at 1585 East 172nd Street, has another ignominious distinction. Fed up with the failure of the landlord, Sam Suzuki, to correct the violations and show up in court, a judge last week issued a warrant for his arrest, a rarity in housing court.
“Mr. Suzuki has treated the court with such disdain,” said Beatrice Hamza Bassey, a lawyer with Hughes Hubbard & Reed, which, with the Legal Aid Society of New York, is representing tenants in the case. “There’s abject squalor in the building. Inhumane conditions. No one should be living under those kinds of conditions.”
Mr. Suzuki said late Wednesday afternoon that he had not been served with an arrest warrant and that he would not comment on the case. He also said he was merely the manager of the building, although in the most recent document in the city register pertaining to the property, from May 2009, he said he was the “sole member” of the corporation that owned it.
The arrest warrant is the latest twist in a harrowing journey for the tenants. Their building had previously been owned by the Ocelot Capital Group, a real estate investment group that bought and then abandoned 25 Bronx buildings, which fell into disrepair. Ten of the buildings ended up on the city’s list of worst residential buildings in 2007 and 2008. In December, Omni New York, the real estate company led by the former Mets player Mo Vaughn, won a bid to take over 14 of the buildings.
Mr. Suzuki, meanwhile, had briefly managed 22 of the buildings through his company, Hunter Property Management. In May 2009, according to city records, another corporation in which he had an interest bought six of the buildings, including 1585 East 172nd Street, for $13.5 million. By then, the tenants at 1585 East 172nd Street had sued Hunter Property in an effort to force repairs.
Initially, there was hope that Mr. Suzuki would turn the buildings around. Shortly after the purchase, he met with housing officials and assured them that he intended to clear the violations, said Vito Mustaciuolo, the deputy housing commissioner.
“There was certainly a commitment on his part then to work with us and to bring the buildings into compliance,” Mr. Mustaciuolo said.
But tenants at 1585 East 172nd Street said conditions worsened. According to the city’s Housing Department, the number of violations grew by 374 in the last year. (Only tenants at 1585 East 172nd Street filed suit, but Dina Levy of the Urban Homesteading Assistance Board, a tenant advocacy group that organized the tenants, said conditions at the five other properties were “awful.”)
“The tenants are fuming,” said Martha Castro, the tenant association president, whose various complaints include sinking kitchen and bedroom floors. “There’s all this water coming in when it rains. You can see the sun coming through the ceiling.”
In March, Kenneth E. Rosen, a lawyer who represented Hunter Property, withdrew from the case. In court papers, he said communications between his firm and Hunter Property had “broken down.” Mr. Rosen did not immediately return phone calls for comment.
Political Action Committee – National Apartment Association (NAA) files Amicus Brief in mold case (two infant deaths in mold filled apt – Wasatch Prop Mgmt) citing US Chamber/ACOEM ‘litigation defense report’ to disclaim health effects of indoor mold & limit financial risk for industry
“Changes in construction methods have caused US buildings to become perfect petri dishes for mold and bacteria to flourish when water is added. Instead of warning the public and teaching physicians that the buildings were causing illness; in 2003 the US Chamber of Commerce Institute for Legal Reform, a think-tank, and a workers comp physician trade organization mass marketed an unscientific nonsequitor to the courts to disclaim the adverse health effects to stave off liability for financial stakeholders of moldy buildings. Although publicly exposed many times over the years, the deceit lingers in US courts to this very day.” Sharon Noonan Kramer
Information on Riverstone Residential, the Louisiana Housing Finance Agency, and the owners of Toxic Mold Infested Jefferson Lakes Apartments in Baton Rouge, Louisiana continuing to allow tenants to be exposed to extreme amounts of mold toxins
Irrefutable evidence indicates that Riverstone Residential, Guarantee Service Team of Professionals, & plaintiffs’ attorney, J Arthur Smith III, must have agreed to exclude evidence that would have shown the owners of Jefferson Lakes Apartments & Riverstone Residential had knowledge of the severe MOLD INFESTATION at the complex before we moved in