Spotlighting the Ongoing Tenant Harassment at 58 Kenmare Street

Posted on: September 18th, 2015 at 5:00 am by
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Let’s turn the spotlight to 58 Kenmare Street, a corner property in Little Italy undergoing luxury renovation. As you might guess, it’s a story of purported landlord harassment against rent regulated tenants struggling to hang on.

The shit first hit the fan back in April, when Marc Cohen and brother Jack together purchased the building for $13.2 million (“58 Kenmare Associates LLC/Comjem LLC”), according to public records. New management officially took control May 1, and we’re told that problems began almost immediately. Your typical harassment tactics. “They haven’t cashed anyone’s checks and we haven’t had gas or hot water,” tenant Blair Hopkins tells us. “[There has been] no running water or bathroom in my apartment since July, with construction workers in and out constantly and without notice. We’ve been using an abandoned downstairs unit to go to the bathroom.”

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Bedbugs in the carpets

Infestation is also an issue – both bedbugs and rodents – and the Cohens allegedly won’t address the issue. The court-ordered repairs as per the HP Action (cases against a landlord who refused to make repairs) reportedly haven’t been heeded.

I took him in on an HP Action, which as of [Wednesday, September 16] at 5pm he will be in violation of. So now I’m going to be taking more days off work to take him back to court.

There have been multiple times I have come home or come out of my bedroom after business hours and found him standing in my kitchen, so I told him today that after the consent order expires, he’s trespassing if he or any of his construction crew enter.”

Yes, it hasn’t been easy for the remaining residents clinging to living quarters inside 58 Kenmare. Like other similar instances across the Lower East Side, it’s a war zone.

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Most of Hopkins’ remaining neighbors have been in the building for 30+ years and are retired, or don’t have the option of leaving for other reasons. It’s been exceptionally difficult for Hopkins as well, as she unexpectedly lost her partner last month. And just to show you the type of people these landlords are, we’re told that the Cohens “even went so far as to try and use [his] death against me in court.”

“I told him what happened because I needed to stay in Queens near his family while we did memorial arrangements and wouldn’t be available. [Marc] Cohen tried to tell the judge that the case should be dismissed, since I ‘abandoned’ the apartment when my boyfriend died. Marc’s a real gem.”

As for the luxury conversion, interior work is proceeding as planned, despite the partial vacate order on premise (due to blocked egress on second floor and work without permit). And from the outside, you can see the cornice-less parapets receiving a paint job.

The Cohens are offering paltry buyouts to walk away.

Where is the Tenant Harassment Prevention Task Force?

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