Thursday, January 29, 2015

Cornfeld Tenants Association: A Minor Victory with Safety Hazards in Buildings

Lobby of 143 West 69 Street, New York, NY 10023

Dear Neighbors,

Attached is a photo taken this morning of renovations being performed in the lobby of 143 West 69 Street (after having an abrupt stop to all work close to 2 weeks ago).

Those of you who live at Building #143 will notice the following:

1. Work table is to the left of the lobby as you exit the elevator, not to the right, which is where the workers who replaced the windows placed a large 8 x 4 plank which obstructed our view of the doors and which led to my accident of December 2, 2014.

2. Orange Safety Cones have been placed around the work area .... reducing the possibility of any tenant having another accident.

MINOR VICTORY!!

This does not mean we know for certain if these workers are properly licensed. It does not mean that possible lead and/or asbestos is air-borne creating a health hazard.

However, it does mean that, for the time being, at least, no one else will trip, fall and injure themselves while this work is being done in the lobby.

We have to advocate that our Landlord ALWAYS HAVE THEIR WORKERS USE ORANGE SAFETY CONES when work -- both minor or large is being performed in the public areas of any and all buildings owned/managed by the Cornfelds.

At 2020 Broadway, for example, one tenant had an accident because there was NO SAFETY CONE by an open ladder hiding behind the landing of the steps where she injured herself by tripping over said ladder. 

She, like me, hurt her back terribly, and was in a body cast for one year.

HOWEVER, I AM GRATEFUL FOR EVEN THE SMALLEST OF VICTORIES....LIKE THESE SAFETY CONES. If our collaborative effort helps even one person, then we are all doing a wonderful job!

Warmest regards to all,

Kirby Sommers
Cornfeld Tenants Association
Tel: (212) 787-8726

cc: residents

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Cornfeld Tenants Association: Possible RICO Lawsuit Against our Landlord

Dear Neighbors,

It seems we/tenants of all the properties owned by Arthur Cornfeld (landlord) have the right to commence either a class action lawsuit or a RICO lawsuit (which is preferable because it removes the protective corporate shield and carries with it a possible jail sentence) ... for at least 2 of our complaints (and, if we keep digging possibly even more things will pop up):

a) The commingling of the Security Deposit monies

b) Illegal harassment and illegal raising of rents (see a list below copied from a similar lawsuit)

    Included among the list of harassing techniques possibly used are: 
 
1.       Seeking to collect illegal rents based on fraudulent claims of individual apartment improvements and major capital improvements.
2.       Failing to make necessary and reasonable repairs to address housing maintenance code violations.
3.       Commencing unfounded court proceedings to challenge tenants’ succession rights.
4.       Unjustifiably refusing to accept tenants’ rent checks and then claiming non-payment.
5.       Directing and encouraging superintendents of its buildings to make unacceptable and shoddy repairs or make false promises to conduct repairs.


All these years I simply believed that Max (and all other supers that preceded him) as well as their workers were incompetent. I did not realize they may have been instructed to be that way in an effort to get us to move. 

Re: 143 West 69 Street

The lobby renovations were stopped abruptly leaving us in a cloud of airborne lead paint. The building hasn't even been mopped for the last 2 weeks. WHY? Possibly another way to harass tenants? Or because they knew we were going to challenge the proposed MCI rent increase. (Your thoughts/ideas would be most appreciated).

Re: 2020 Broadway

Another incident happened last night which required the police to once again go to the property. (Again your thoughts/ideas most appreciated). 

###

As the matter of the lawsuits commences, we will need some of you to come forward with your personal stories to share with the attorneys. Everyone who is a rent stabilized tenant is protected by law. You are guaranteed a lease renewal. The only thing that would make any landlord evict you would be non-payment of rent.

At this point we definitely need more assistance b/c we will be adding other properties owned by Arthur Cornfeld to our list. They own 380 buildings in NYC. So, whatever you can offer, whether it is one hour/week or some other form of assistance (making copies, distributing flyers, etc); this is the time for all of us to join hands and move forward together.

You will be helping yourself, your neighbors, and by example, all tenants in the City of New York.

Yours truly,

Kirby Sommers
President
Cornfeld Tenants Association
212.787.8726

bcc: residents

Friday, January 23, 2015

Cornfeld Tenants Association: Who is Our Landlord? / Update January 23, 2015



Dear Neighbors,

As many of you know, I have been a tenant at 143 West 69th Street since 1981, and as shameful as it is to admit: I did not know the extent of myTENANTS RIGHTS.
If I, a licensed Real Estate Broker, did not fully understand my Tenants Rights or the legal obligations of our Landlord – then it comes as no surprise to me to find email after email asking the “why’s” of our newly formed Tenants Association.
TO BETTER UNDERSTAND YOUR RIGHTS AS A TENANT, see the Attorney General’s pdf Tenant Rights Guide (link provided here):
REGARDING:
  1. TENANT ORGANIZATIONS
“Tenants have a legal right to organize. They may form, join, and participate in tenant organizations for the purpose of protecting their rights. Landlords are required to permit tenant organizations to meet, at no cost, in any community or social room in the building(s).“
“A Landlord cannot interfere with the right of the Tenants to form, join, or participate in any group formed to protect the rights of the tenants, nor harass or punish Tenant or withhold any right from Tenant for exercising this right. Tenant’s group has the right to meet on premises in areas devoted to common use.”
(From the Met Council’s Statutory Rights of Residential Tenants in New York:http://metcouncilonhousing.org/help_and_answers/statutory_rights_of_residential_tenants_in_new_york )
It has been brought to our attention that ABC Properties has told several tenants: “Do not go to the meetings. Do not complain.”
THIS IS ILLEGAL.
You have a right to know what is happening in your home.
THE RIGHT TO ORGANIZE A TENANTS ASSOCIATION IS GUARANTEED BY LAW: Real Property Law, Article 7, Section 2030
  1. WHAT HAPPENS IN ONE APARTMENT CAN IMPACT WHAT HAPPENS IN YOUR APARTMENT
EXAMPLE: A tenant at 2020 Broadway complained to our landlord several times about a gas leak in her apartment. The landlord never responded to her complaints. A fire broke out in her apartment. This fire could have easily spread throughout the entire building.
SEE RECENT NEWS: Avalon at Edgewater fire ripped through the building, was ignited during maintenance repairs to ONE apartment on the first floor, displacing 1,000 people:
                       
  1. APARTMENT RELATED HEALTH AND SAFETY
Housing conditions should support the health and well-being of its residents; they should not cause injuries or illness.
This simple principle lies at the heart of healthy housing initiatives and recognizes interactions between housing and disease, injury, and overall well being. Identifying unhealthy or unsafe housing conditions is a prerequisite to correcting them before they negatively impact health or our safety.
a)      Negligence caused by maintenance workers (hired by our landlord) in public areas of the building(s) resulting in a higher likelihood of you having an accident.
b)      Negligence caused by our landlord by ignoring repeated requests to repair, fix, or replace broken door locks on the front doors (of buildings) and roof doors. This leads to:
a.       Burglaries
b.      Rapes
c.       Other crimes that may be PREVENTABLE if our landlord complied with repairs and maintenance issues.
EXAMPLE: A homeless man has been living in the basement of 143 West 69th Street for over 6 months. This has been brought to the attention of ABC Properties. To date, they have done nothing.
FYI: Alexis Ficks Welsh (a resident of 143 West 69th Street) was stabbed several times with a carving knife and killed by a mentally ill homeless man.
QUESTION: Who else has to die before our landlord takes our issues seriously? And for that matter: before they take our lives seriously?
c)      Environmentally Hazardous Conditions:
a.       Asbestos
b.      Mold
c.       Lead
Before any construction work is done in our buildings our Landlord should conduct an “Environmental Sampling” to ensure we are not negligently exposed to possible health hazards.
EXAMPLE: 140 West 69th Street has an “in-house asbestos specialist.” This building is about the same age as both 143 West 69th Street and 2020 Broadway. Whenever work is to be performed at 140 West 69 Street, they follow the safety guidelines to ensure no one is exposed to air borne toxins.
PROBLEM: Our landlord, to date, has never performed such a test. Our landlord cannot provide any evidence that we have not been exposed to any of the Environmentally Hazardous Conditions listed above.
GOAL: To have the landlord perform repairs and/or renovations in a legal manner that would also comply with ensuring the safety of all tenants.
  1. Illegal Raising of Rents
This was discussed in detail in a previous Tenants Association update. (If you do not have it, you may request a copy of this).
  1. Security Deposits
    1. ABC Properties has not responded to an email request regarding the name of the bank where our “Security Deposit” (repeated requests over many years)
    1. ABC Properties has not responded to verbal requests re: our Security Deposits (repeated requests over many years)
“Landlords of buildings with six (6) or more apartments must put all security deposits in New York bank accounts earning interest at the prevailing rate. Each tenant must be informed in writing of he bank’s name and address of the deposit.
Tenants must be given the option of having this interest paid to them annually, applied to rent, or paid at the end of the lease term.
ESTABLISING BREACH:
Establishing Breach of Security Deposit Obligations (Commingling of funds)
“As can be discerned from case law, three factors emerge which bear upon a determination of a landlord’s breach of statutory obligation concerning maintenance of a security deposit:
1)      Whether the deposit was held in a segregated account and in the name of the actual landlord;
2)      Whether the landlord has responded to demands for information regarding the maintenance of the security account;
3)      Whether the landlord complied with the independent duty to give the tenant notice of any depository bank and its address.
WHO IS OUR LANDLORD?
Arthur Cornfeld is our landlord.
Arthur Cornfeld has many properties in New York and in other cities throughout the United States.
The properties are each listed with a different corporate name. This corporate name is then changed again. At the present time there are about 1,000 different corporate names – all of which name Arthur Cornfeld as either the CEO or as a partner, along with Alan Fisher, David Lansey, Alex Cornfeld, and other real estate investors.
SEE: June 4, 1985 NEW YORK TIMES article re: Arthur Cornfeld (then 50 years old):

 

BUSINESS PEOPLE; 3 Partners Behind Deal To Buy Gulf Building

By Roy S. Johnson and Thomas Rogers
Published: June 4, 1985
HOW HAS OUR LANDLORD HAS SKIRTED LAWSUITS?
FOR EXAMPLE:
See:

ESTRELLA v. ARTHUR CORNFELD

79 A.D.3d 1536 (N.Y. App. Div. 2010)
Arthur Cornfeld has skirted lawsuits by hiding behind corporate shells.
In Estrella v. Arthur Cornfeld – Cornfeld claimed the maintenance man (who was injured while doing maintenance work at 143 West 69 Street) was hired by “the management company, not ‘Broadway 69.”
OUR LANDLORD AND THE MANAGEMENT COMPANY ARE ONE AND THE SAME.
TO READ SUMMARY:
AND>>>>
See:

RESTREPO v. ABC PROPERTIES EQUITIES, LLCDOCKET NO. 103939/10, MOTION SEQUENCE NO. 004.

A former resident of 143 West 69 Street had an accident in front of the building suffering personal injuries. Our landlord passed the blame to the 2 stores that now occupy the basement space of the building.
Arthur Cornfeld aka ABC Properties claimed the 2 stores had entered into “an agreement” with the super Domingo (Max) Fernandez and the assistant superintendent Luis Alba (incorrectly spelled as “Louis”) to clean the sidewalk for them.
THIS WOULD BE AN INACCURATE STATEMENT AS LUIS ALBA IS THE PERSON I HAVE SEEN CLEAN THE FRONT OF OUR BUILDING. HE ALSO TAKES OUT THE GARBAGE AND CLEANS THE INTERIOR OF OUR BUILDINGS. None of the two stores have ever entered into a “separate agreement” with either the super or the assistant superintendent.
 AND>>>>>

LEGAL
JACK L. GLASSER is one of the attorney’s regularly used by Arthur Cornfled.
Jack Glasser’s LinkedIn profile states:
“It was during Jack's employment with Lindenbaum & Young that he became acquainted with Fred C Trump, Leona Helmsley, David Topping, Marcus Retter, Alan Fisher and Arthur Cornfeld, all Major players in New York Real Estate. It was during this period of time that Jack became "Cannon fodder" for the hundreds of trials that took place for these clients. All of these clients had a common thread "never settle" It was with these clients that Jack developed trial skills that are unsurpassed in any State Court.”

IN CONCLUSION

We have been led to believe that our landlord is a “small landlord.”
This is far from the truth.
Our landlord is a shark.
He is in the same league as the Trump family.
Our landlord DOES NOT CARE ABOUT OUR HEALTH AND OUR SAFETY.
THE ONLY THING OUR LANDLORD CARES ABOUT IS MAKING MORE MONEY.
TO ENSURE WE GET ADEQUATE RESPONSES TO OUR MAINTENANCE ISSUES AND ALL OTHER ISSUES, IT IS IMPERATIVE FOR US TO CREATE A STRONG TENANTS ASSOCIATION.
Organizing a tenants’ association is the most effective way to encourage a building owner to improve services, make building repairs, maintain the building, and follow the rules: building codes, obtaining proper permits, etc.
Although laws specify the responsibilities of a building owner, some owners do not uphold them consistently.
The unified voice of many tenants is much more powerful that the voice of just one, and in fact, a tenants’ association can “BALANCE THE POWER” of the owner with that of the tenants.
By organizing tenants can regain the rights that are justly theirs and restore equality and fair play. Owners can be made more responsive and can be encouraged to remain that way as long as the tenants association remains strong.
It takes persistence. It takes vigilance. But it works!
JOIN OUR TENANTS ASSOCIATION.
BE A GOOD NEIGHBOR AND PASS THIS INFORMATION ON TO YOUR NEIGHBORS.
Warm regards,
Kirby Sommers
President
Cornfeld Tenants Association