Bowery Residents Stave off Eviction as State Deems Apartments Rent Stabilized

Chinatown tenants embroiled in a legal struggle against eviction for more than two years have reason to rejoice. The state sided with the 27 low-income families living here in a ruling that confirms the apartments in question at 83-85 Bowery as rent stabilized buildings.

Residents alleged that landlord Joseph Betesh, of Milestone Equities and Dr. Jay’s fame, has been attempting to evict those in 83-85 Bowery since at least March 2016, arguing that the side-by-side tenements required much-needed structural repairs. Public Advocate Letitia James got involved and reportedly procured a settlement between the parties in May 2016 to temporarily relocate tenants during renovations. This accord was later rebuffed by tenants who feared that their relocation would be permanent.

After the deal fizzled four months later, according to DNAinfo, the judge in the New York State Supreme Court case ruled that tenants could stay in their homes while the Department of Homes and Community Renewal (DHCR) determined whether the apartments are in fact rent-stabilized. It took another year, but the ruling was only recently handed down – both Bowery buildings are officially rent stabilized. (The buildings were constructed before 1974 and contain more than six units, which would usually make them subject to rent-stabilization, according to the Rent Guidelines Board.)

“This is a major development after more than two years of the tenants’ fight to stay in their apartments,” the Bowery Tenants Association noted in a media advisory. “The tenants demand the landlord, Joseph Betesh, repair the buildings and stop harassing the tenants.”

Even Christopher Marte weighed in. “The support of the Division of Housing & Community Renewal (DHCR) in the tenants’ Supreme Court case signifies a momentous step in the right direction towards justice,” the former City Council contender said in his own statement. “I am honored to have stood with these tenants over the past two and half years as we have rallied in the street and built a network of community support. Vindictive landlords are daunting enemies, but today tenants and activists should take heart in knowing that their work can set precedents to bring an end to tenant harassment.”

Betesh purchased 83-85 Bowery back in 2013 alongside ten other Bowery buildings in a blockbuster $62 million portfolio deal.