You would have thought her situation would have tugged at his heartstrings, but, incredibly, it was a Boro Park landlord who evicted an elderly Holocaust survivor from her Bensonhurst apartment while she waited for repairs to be made so she could go home.
Moshe “Morris” Piller — who operates out of offices at 1274 49th Street — served the notice of eviction on 92-year-old Eta Eckstein while Eckstein was in a rehabilitation facility, looking forward to returning to her 8750 Bay Parkway home, said Eckstein’s grandson, Idan Eckstein.
The bathroom ceiling had fallen in, Eckstein explained, delaying his grandmother’s reinstatement in the apartment she has occupied for over 40 years while the landlord, “Took three months to do a shoddy repair job.” His grandmother had spent about 18 months at the rehab facility after a fall, but Eckstein’s father had dutifully paid the rent, as he has for the past 20 years, he said.
Because the apartment is rent-controlled, it is only about $600 a month, Eckstein said. The lease had recently been renewed, he added, and the landlord had even cashed the January rent check.
“She was going to move back in but it wasn’t livable,” Eckstein recalled. When they learned of the eviction, he added, “We were just lining up for her to move back in.”
Not that Piller bothered to notify the Ecksteins of what he had done. His father only found out the situation when he arrived at the apartment to collect the mail – which he does every two weeks, said Eckstein – and saw “a familiar looking refrigerator” in the building’s lobby.
When he went up to the apartment, Eckstein continued, his father found an eviction notice dated January 27th on the door. And, not only was there an eviction notice addressed to his grandmother, Eckstein went on, but also eviction notices for “John Doe” and “Jane Doe,” as if there were other tenants in the apartment.
“No one else is living there, so that’s not true,” Eckstein went on, noting, however, that his grandmother does have round-the-clock care because of her age.
Even worse, said Eckstein, while his father was looking at the eviction notice, a child living in a nearby apartment had come over to him and told him that the woman who lived in the apartment had died. “They told another neighbor that she had passed away,” Eckstein reported. “That was very upsetting to my dad.”
The shocks kept coming. When he spoke to the super, Eckstein’s father learned that his mother’s possessions had been brought down to the building’s basement and put in a space that, Eckstein said, was, “Not 100 percent secure, where people supposed live.”
In addition, said Eckstein, some of his grandmother’s things had been “thrown out the window,” and could be seen lying on the ground, within a fenced-in area adjacent to the building.
“She was a Holocaust survivor,” stressed Eckstein. “All the things she managed to keep are either on the floor of the basement or thrown out the window. She managed to save these things. For someone to do that is horrible. These are family heirlooms, things she wanted to pass down.”
With a court date scheduled for Monday, Eckstein said he is certain that his grandmother will get her apartment back. “He is playing games with people’s lives,” Eckstein said of the landlord. “What he did was wrong.”
While Piller did not return a call requesting comment by press time, NBCNewYork.com reported that his attorney had defended the eviction as “legal,” contending that Eckstein hadn’t lived in the apartmentfor two years.