Although the Dermot Company is largely responsible for rehabilitating one of Brooklyn’s most iconic structures, hundreds of Fort Greene and Clinton Hill residents claim the firm is a big bully and a bad landlord. Last night the Pratt Area Community Council (PACC) held a meeting for tenants of Dermot buildings who say the One Hanson developer is harassing them in an a concerted effort to get them out of their rent-stabilized apartments.
Over the past year or so Dermot has purchased a number of rent-stabilized apartment buildings in Fort Greene and Clinton Hill, including 25 and 99 Lafayette Avenue, 266 Washington Avenue, 260 and 262 St. James Place (above), and 311 Lincoln Place. According to tenants who spoke at the meeting last night, Dermot has been slacking off on building repairs, offering tenants buyouts for their apartments, taking renters to court in order to try to boot them from their homes, and generally ignoring residents’ complaints. This is our home, and we’re not going anywhere, said a tenant who’s lived at 266 Washington Avenue for 41 years. PACC executive director Deb Howard called what was happening to tenants the new face of displacement, by a private equity company. Several politiciansâ€”Council Member Letitia James, Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries, and State Senator Velmanette Montgomeryâ€”also spoke in support of Dermot’s tenants. This is a very scary issue, said Montgomery. We are not about to lie down quietly and let this happen. Dermot released a statement in response to the tenant charges saying the firm has already spent more than $1.5 million in repairing the buildings (many of which had significant housing code violations when Dermot acquired them) and that the harassment charges are bogus. Dermot has only taken legal action against tenants that have failed to pay rent for at least two months or with evidence that the tenant of record does not live in the apartment, said the statement.
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