Sunset Park landlord being sued for discriminating against immigrant tenants
A class-action lawsuit has been filed by the Legal Aid Society on behalf of tenants in two Sunset Park apartment buildings who alleged that the landlord discriminated against them and made them prove citizenship before agreeing to renew their leases.
Adel and Linda Eskander, owners of 601 and 614 40th St., two rent-stabilized buildings in Sunset Park, are accused of harassing and intimidating tenants, bringing baseless eviction proceedings against Latino tenants, using derogatory statements against them and forcing them to provide immigration papers upon renewing their leases.
“For decades, the Eskanders have bullied rent-regulated immigrant tenants to vacate their homes and refused to make much needed repairs to bolster their bottom line,” said Sunny Noh, Supervising Attorney of the Tenant Rights Coalition at the Legal Aid Society.
“Their unchecked reign of terror on vulnerable Brooklynites stops today,” Noh continued. “Years of unconscionable, malevolent and illegal behavior will catch up with them and they will soon reap what they’ve sown in federal court.”
Lawyers from the Legal Aid Society noted that the Eskanders have been sued by them before, in 2003, also for demanding that tenants provide immigration documentation prior to renewing their lease.
According to Legal Aid, the Eskanders have only gotten more aggressive since that suit and have made, or have threatened to have made, frivolous complaints to NYPD, the Administration for Children’s Services and other city agencies.
“I don’t like having Latinos, blacks or Chinese here because they’re sedentary,” Adel Eskander told one tenant according to the lawsuit. “They never move. I need people to move,”
There are six tenants involved in the suit. They are seeking declaratory, injunction, and equitable relief. The law firm of Cahill, Gordon & Reindel LLP is also working pro bono in conjunction with the Legal Aid Society on this case.
According to the NYC Commission on Human Rights, opened 376 investigations into discrimination claims between 2015 and 2016, the last years that data was available.
“The Eskanders and their like have flouted the law and forced people from their homes for far too long,” said Sunset Park City Councilmember Carlos Menchaca. “Our affordable housing crisis is accelerated when rent stabilized apartments are lost through unethical and unlawful landlord tactics. ‘Eviction by construction,’ withholding heat and hot water, failure to make basic repairs and tenant bullying must stop. Landlords throughout New York City are on notice: your illegal and inhumane harassment of tenants will be severely punished.”
Attorneys for the Eskanders are expected to appear in court on Thursday at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York to respond to an order to show cause.
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