Flophouse back in court

Protest: Some tenants who live in 1109 Manhattan Ave. are suing to force the landlord to fix what they say are deplorable conditions that include rats, mold, and no hot water.
Photo by Elizabeth Graham

The Greenpoint Hotel is still a disaster.

That is what the attorney for the residents of the single-occupancy hotel told a judge on Wednesday morning, more than three months after the same judge ordered hundreds of critical violations repaired.

The violations at the flophouse where more than 100 men and a few women live include lack of heat and hot water, windows missing glass, faulty electrical systems, and clogged toilets. And almost everything is still in the same state it was before the court order, tenants say.

“The conditions of the building have become intolerable, from leaking ceilings, collapsed ceilings, rampant mold, infestation of vermin and bugs, to inoperable bathrooms and plumbing,” said tenant Jeffrey Earnest. “There are just too many various problems to name.”

The tenants took landlord Jay Deutchman to court in February for failing to repair the violations. In April, housing court Judge Hannah Cohen ordered Deutchman to make the repairs, giving him between 16 and 45 days for the most critical violations and 120 days for the smaller ones.

This was the second time the tenants had sued Deutchman. They filed a similar suit against him in 2010. He repaired the violations from that suit, but by 2013, tenants say the hotel was back to a dangerous state.

“He’s shown us that the work is not going to get done unless the court takes stronger action,” said Kelly Wehrle a housing counselor at St. Nicks Alliance, which is assisting in the case.

On Wednesday, Judge Cohen ordered the hot water to be repaired within a week and postponed the contempt case until Aug. 21.

Deutchman’s attorney Edward Deignan claims that his client did make most of the repairs, but that the tenants would sabotage him and break them again within days.

“He made a repair to a wall with sheetrock and putty, and he came back the next day and the tenant had shredded the whole thing,” said Deignan. “There are toilets stuffed with Chinese food, they do chin-ups on the water pipes. It’s ludicrous that the tenants are saying these things have not been done.”

But the tenants attorney said the landlord has submitted no documentation that he ever repaired anything.

“He has submitted no certifications,” said attorney Tanya Kessler, a staff attorney at MFY Legal Services. “What he is saying is what landlords typically say. He doesn’t present any evidence because he doesn’t have any, because it’s not true.”

Earnest said he believes Deutchman is trying to push the tenants out so that he can sell the building in the rapidly changing neighborhood for a pretty penny.

Reach reporter Danielle Furfaro at dfurfaro@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-2511. Follow her at twitter.com/DanielleFurfaro.

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