85 Bowery Landlord Under Fire for Being Late in Emergency Repairs, Chin Demands Relief
Two weeks ago today, seventy-five people (i.e. 29 families) were evacuated from 85 Bowery, in what is the latest chapter of a nasty dispute between tenants and landlord Joseph Betesh. The court-ordered inspection on January 18 resulted in a Department of Buildings determination that the main stairwell was not structurally sound, and required an immediate vacate order. It became ground zero for emergency personnel that night.
The city also ordered Joseph Betesh to repair the stairs within fourteen days of the vacate order. Which is today. The work is not yet done, and no timetable to completion was given. Most of the displaced tenants remain holed up in a purported hovel of a hotel in Brooklyn, and cannot return until the stairs are repaired. An outcome feared from the beginning.
Will there be disciplinary action enforced by the city?
In response, Councilwoman Margaret Chin penned a scathing letter to Betesh (below) and also re-introduced four-year-old legislation that would require negligent landlords to foot the bill for relocation costs in such situations.
“Since you have stated that repairs will extend beyond the February 1st deadline set by the NYC Department of Buildings, I demand relief for dozens of tenants who have been displaced from their homes since a court-ordered inspection determined that the building’s structural integrity posed substantial life-safety hazards,” Chin wrote in her letter.
“It is unacceptable to have residents, through no fault of their own, continue to pay for the consequences of having their lives uprooted and disrupted. As necessary repairs continue, tenants deserve to have a safe, comfortable place in proximity to their children’s schools, their workplaces and their communities.”