New Landlord of 135-137 Eldridge Street Reportedly Harassing Longtime Chinese Tenants

Posted on: October 29th, 2014 at 5:28 am by
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It’s open season on the Lower East Side for corruption. Another day, another rent regulated building targeted, purchased, and (allegedly) harassed into submission. The newest instance is near the southwest corner of Eldridge and Delancey, a block that continues on its trajectory of gentrification.

What’s happening at 135-137 Eldridge is a textbook case of landlord harassment. The double-tenement building was purchased earlier this month by Eldridge Associates LLC for a whopping $11 million. As you might imagine, the new owner – a shell company for R.A. Cohen & Associates –  is apparently wasting no time in booting the longtime tenants for maximum profits. After all, this real estate company claims itself a “proven performer as an owner/manager who can create and enhance value.”

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Keyless entry at the entrance to 135 Eldridge

The housing stock inside 135-137 Eldridge is comprised of 28 rent regulated apartments (controlled and stabilized), and occupied predominantly by Chinese families. Indeed, sources tell us that the demographic is 95% Chinese, with some having lived there for fifty years.

We are told that, in the last few weeks, notices were distributed to some, but not all, residents living here. Translators were also hired to (presumably) spread fear and push for buyouts, especially if “occupants don’t have legal residency.”

Other tactics employed here reportedly include:

  • Installing surveillance cameras on every floor.
  • Threatening the two commercial store tenants.
  • Not accepting many residents’ monthly rent payments.
  • Installing a Keyless Entry System on the front door to limit resident access and track entry. Tenants are reportedly being forced to register in the main office with government-issued identification.

Thus far, we don’t see any DOB permits on file for renovation work. However, there is an unresolved complaint regarding construction on the fifth floor that caused “large debris” to fall onto the fourth floor.

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Security camera recently installed on the 2nd Floor

The only silver lining here is that tenants are now in contact with Councilwoman Margaret Chin, who actually helped delay the installation of the above-mentioned keyless entry system and registration. Also supporting their plight are Asian Americans for Equality, MFY Legal Services, New York Legal Assistance Group, and tenant advocate attorney John D. Gorman.

It’s also worth noting that 135-137 Eldridge has a checkered past as it is. DOB records indicate that there were illegally subdivided apartments (10 people in one room!) and a partial-vacate order that still stands for an illegal cellar dwelling.

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