Facing Eviction, Bowery Residents Speak Out Against Harassment by Landlord Joseph Betesh
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The same old tenant harassment tactics we see time and again are reportedly being employed down on the Bowery in Chinatown. Time to add Joseph Betesh (pka Milestone Equities) to the list of controversial landlords. They call it “tremendous upside” in industry parlance.
Betesh purchased the property back in 2013 alongside ten other Bowery buildings in a blockbuster portfolio deal valued at $62 million. Two years later, purported efforts to purge the inhabitants – reportedly some 27 households – is stronger than ever. Flyers circulated around the neighborhood last week reveal that tenants of 83-85 Bowery, some of whom have lived here for decades, are organizing against the landlord (whose family owns the Dr. Jays streetwear chain). The complaints and demands are similar to other landlord-tenant spats – rent regulated leases not renewed, gas turned off, building repairs needed, etc.
A press conference is planned to announce the action this morning (10am), and to call on the city to “prevent further displacement in Chinatown/LES.” Below is the text from the press distribution:
For years, residents of 83-85 Bowery have been experiencing constant water leakage from ceilings, even recently, a bathroom floor on the verge of collapse. For example, when one floor takes a shower, the floor below would have water coming down. In one apartment, they had to keep an umbrella up in their bathroom to prevent water from the above apartment from coming down on them. In addition, the uneven and sloping stairs have been a hazardous problem for one of the buildings, where many families, seniors, and children live. Most recently, after the tenants had organized a tenant association, the tenants of 85 Bowery had their gas cut off since April 1st, 2015, and despite calls to 311 and asking the landlord to resolve, gas was only reinstated last week, after over 40 days.
The landlord, Joseph Betesh, had left the building to be rundown since he acquired it in 2013, along with 9 other buildings on Bowery. Since then, no repairs or upkeep had been done by the landlord. The landlord is deliberately keeping the building in disrepair as a way to force tenants out because he cannot do so legally.
The Betesh Bowery portfolio includes 83, 85, 88, 103, 105, 219, 221, 262, 276, 280, and 284 Bowery. Altogether, these buildings total approximately 143,230 above grade square feet with air-rights intact.
These properties had been family owned since the 1930s until 2013.