Ocean Avenue tenants sue landlord, demanding immediate repairs to crumbling building

tenants at 1111 ocean avenue
Tenants at 1111 Ocean Avenue in Flatbush are taking their landlord to court, they announced Thursday, saying they have dealt with poor conditions and a bad landlord for years.
File photo by Jada Camille

A group of Flatbush tenants announced Thursday their plan to sue their landlord, Sam Wasserman, demanding immediate repairs to the building and an end to alleged harassment.

Residents rallied outside their apartment building at 1111 Ocean Ave., on Feb. 16 alongside members of the Flatbush Tenant Coalition and Brooklyn Legal Services’ Tenants Rights Coalition, demanding aid from the city. The apartment building has amassed 578 building code violations, which include the 157 “immediately hazardous” conditions that tenants say put their lives at risk. 

The tenants say they have repeatedly sought assistance from New York City agencies like Housing Preservation and Development and the Department of Buildings, with the DOB declaring the building’s structural integrity so dangerous that the department ordered a vacate order for parts of the building, forbidding the landlord from leasing those units.

Collapsed ceiling at 1111 Ocean Avenue
Tenants say conditions in the building have only gotten worse, even after the city has ordered the landlord to make repairs. The ceiling in a child’s bedroom in one unit collapsed last year. Photos courtesy of Flatbush Tenants Coalition

“The city offers greedy and negligent landlords a thousand chances and resources, but tenants get none,” said Andrew, a tenant of 1111 Ocean Avenue. “We shouldn’t have to sue our landlords for basic repairs, but city and state law is so preferential to landlords that we have no other way to try and protect our families from illness and injury. Shame on the city, the state, and every landlord for perpetuating this system.”

In an attempt to force their landlord to act, some tenants began what is now a two-year long rent strike in 2020. A year later, they demanded that state Attorney General Letitia James resume a previous investigation into the building’s conditions. 

On Oct. 13, residents reported that a portion of a ceiling in the apartment collapsed in a child’s bedroom in a sixth floor apartment unit, narrowly avoiding harming the children who did not happen to be in the room at the time. Other tenants reported infestations of mold and roaches, fallen ceilings, and a crumbling building facade. During an inspection of the unit two weeks after the collapse, the DOB found extensive damage due to water damage and noted that the building’s elevator and garage were not properly maintained. 

flatbush tenants at 1111 ocean avenue
Tenants launched a rent strike more than two years ago, and are demanding that city agencies take concrete action against their landlord. File photo courtesy of Flatbush Tenants Coalition

Residents at 1111 Ocean Ave. have since obtained legal aid from Brooklyn Legal Services in order to sue landlord Sam Wasserman to compel him to make the necessary repairs to ensure that the building is habitable and safe. In November, an HPD spokesperson told Brooklyn Paper the department had started legal proceedings against the landlord. But after years of negligence and a lack of action, tenants want more than just a civil suit as their apartments continue to deteriorate. 

“It’s time to stop slapping landlords on the wrist and [start] placing them in handcuffs,” said resident Janice, expressing her frustration during the rally. “The revolving door of justice allows landlords to slip through the cracks. Mayor Adams needs to come to 1111 Ocean Avenue and sleep in one of the apartments with a leaky ceiling and collapsed ceiling.”

Last corrected Feb. 17, 2023 5:01 p.m.