Bronx Tenants Successfully Become Their Own Landlord: A Real Achievement

Last week, CBS New York reported on a lawsuit filed by tenants in the Bronx against their landlord. The tenants accuse the landlord of neglecting basic repairs and subjecting them to unsafe living conditions.

The tenants are eager to transform their building into a tenant-owned building.

Nora Brown, a resident, has been diligently climbing six flights of stairs for the past six months.

Residents of a building have been facing the inconvenience of a broken elevator since August. However, this is just one of the many issues that their landlord has neglected to address for several decades.

Janelle Young, a resident, pointed out several issues in the building, including garbage, roaches, rats, and malfunctioning elevators.

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Tenants residing at 2201 Davidson Ave. have taken legal action against their landlord due to the landlord’s failure to address essential maintenance issues. With the aim of improving the condition of their building, the tenants are seeking a single resolution.

Edward Garcia, of the Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition, passionately asserted that the tenants should take ownership of the building without any further delay. According to him, the current living conditions are unbearable, and immediate action needs to be taken.

CBS New York recently investigated the attainability of a specific goal: buying a building. In Port Morris, they found a building where tenants were able to achieve this goal after a challenging legal battle. According to the tenants, they are now only a few months away from becoming the proud owners of their own building.

Courtland Hankins has been engaged in a battle to remain in this building at an affordable rate since 2017.

Hankins expressed that when the new owner took over, there was a clear indication that the rents would increase rapidly and substantially. Specifically, the rent prices would go up by 50% and almost double in amount.

In the gentrified neighborhood of Mott Haven, there is a real estate hub at 700 East 134th St. Tenants, including Hankins, fought back by taking their case to court. Eventually, their determination led the landlord to sell the building to them.

Claudia Waterton, a resident, expressed her disbelief, saying, “Sometimes it feels surreal. I have to pinch myself because this is real. We did it.”

In 2022, tenants were able to purchase the building for less than $4 million with the assistance of UHAB (Urban Homesteading Assistance Board) and the City’s Housing Preservation & Development.

They have already begun making upgrades, including new windows, heating and cooling systems, and stoves.

According to Waterton, the ceilings in their unit are incredibly high, making it challenging to cool the entire space effectively. However, with the installation of these new heat pumps, the cooling process has become much more efficient. Waterton mentioned, “Now, my unit gets cool in no time,” emphasizing the positive impact of the new heat pumps.

According to Hankins, the most valuable advice he can offer to tenants at 2201 Davidson Ave. is the importance of unity and sticking together throughout the process. He emphasizes that their progress thus far has been possible because they have united as a community. Hankins believes that by working together and cooperating with one another, they hold the power to make a positive change.

Tenants are currently advocating for the passage of a bill known as TOPA. This bill would grant tenants the privilege of making the initial offer on their building if the landlord intends to sell it.

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