A Hasidic Jewish landlord is being sued by Latino tenants who claim that he has purposefully neglected their rent-stabilized apartments in Brooklyn to force them to move out.
The residents – Cindy Sanchez, Sara Oyola, and Kathleen Santiago say that Naftali Steinmetz has forced out other Latino residents of their building on Lee Avenue, which runs through a section of Williamsburg, Brooklyn that has been increasingly populated in recent years by Orthodox Jews.
The plaintiffs in the suit say they are the only three remaining Latino tenants on their block, according to the New York Post.
According to the complaint, Steinmetz has made living in the building ‘unpleasant and untenable’ for the non-Hasidic residents.
The plaintiffs allege that they were made to live through two winters without heat in their apartment and that Steinmetz has neglected to maintain the floors, which have been left in a ‘visibly dangerous’ state.
Since Steinmetz bought the apartment building in 2006, the Latino residents there have had to put up with ‘years of neglect, fights in Brooklyn Housing Court for repairs, and incessant harassment to take buyout offers,’ the lawsuit alleges.
This is not the first time that a local landlord has been accused of trying to intimidate tenants into moving out of their apartments.
Aron Stark, the brother of a Menachem Stark, a Brooklyn developer whose murder in 2014 made headlines, was sued last year by tenants at a rent-stabilized apartment in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn, according to the New York Daily News.
The Williamsburg area has seen a boom in the Hasidic population while Latinos and blacks have largely fled the area.