‘I fear for my life’: Prospect Lefferts Gardens tenants living with mold while landlord fixes units for Airbnb

Tenants are suing their landlord, claiming they renovated units to sell on Airbnb, while longtime residents are forced to dwell amid mold and other hazards.
Tenants Rights Coalition

A family of Prospect Lefferts Gardens “slum lords” is raking in the dough by renting out renovated apartments on Airbnb, while lease-holding tenants suffer a brutal harassment campaign amid disgusting, illegal, and unsafe buildings conditions, according to a civil complaint filed in Kings County Supreme Court.

“Sometimes I come home and the lights don’t come on. ” said Digna Doesserie-Mitchel, a longtime resident of 611 Flatbush Ave. “How is the landlord going to fix up these other apartments for Airbnb and not maintain the rest of the building? We deserve better than this.”

Tenants living in three Flatbush Avenue buildings located between Rutland Road and Fenimore Street claim they’ve been forced to endure noxious mold, crumbling walls, unreliable power, heat and hot water, defective appliances, and leaking pipes due to the negligence of the landlord, the Shasho family, which has resulted in inspectors dolling out 220 open housing violations.

Additionally, the Department of Housing Preservation and Development placed one of the buildings — 607 Flatbush Ave. — on its list of the city’s most notorious crap holes, the dreaded Alternative Enforcement Program.

But that hasn’t stopped the Sasho clan from investing in renovations for at least five unoccupied units within their otherwise blighted properties, which they’ve advertised on Airbnb as “spectacular,” “spacious,” and “beautifully sun-filled spaces” alongside images of chandleries and sparkling new appliances, according to the plaintiffs.

Tenants Rights Coalition

But the gallery of charmingly furnished and tastefully decorated hotel rooms belie the hazards awaiting unwary tourists, according to one tenant of 607 Flatbush Ave., who said she lives in constant fear of fire as a result of the building’s poor condition.

“I fear for my life,” said Elizabeth Hayes, 65, who has been a tenant since 1981. “It’s the not knowing that make me afraid. This building is unsafe.”

The Shasho clan has done everything it can to scare off its remaining tenants, who enjoy modest annual rent increases as a result of the city’s rent stabilization laws, including replacing busted fridges and ovens with appliances harboring dead rats and cockroach infestations, according to the suit.

The residents are looking for a judge to step in and stop the harassment, force repairs to the building, and some monetary compensation for their trouble, according to Seth Hoy, a spokesman for the Tenants Rights Coalition, which is representing the tenants.

A man who answered a number for William Shasho, who’s listed as the owner for 599 Flatbush Ave., claimed he was not a member of the Shasho family, which could not be reached.

Tenants Rights Coalition

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at cmixson@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4505.

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