Landlords Joel and Aaron Israel were arrested Thursday on criminal charges for allegedly intentionally destroying apartments they own in Greenpoint and Bushwick and lying to the court about it, the Times and many other outlets reported yesterday. The brothers have been in the news for about two years after reportedly destroying kitchens, baths, gas lines and hot water heaters of longtime tenants at several buildings in Brooklyn to force them out and increase rents to market rate for newcomers.
The cases have been winding through housing court. Criminal charges in such cases are unusual — but then so are the alleged actions of the accused.
The charges are part of a citywide crackdown on tenant harassment. The buildings in question include 300 Nassau in Greenpoint and 324 Central Avenue and 98 Linden Street in Bushwick. The charges include fraud, falsifying documents, unlawful eviction, burglary and grand larceny, said the Times.
In February, a Housing Court judge appointed an administrator to oversee 300 Nassau Avenue, pictured above. Some have suggested the city should seize the buildings from the landlords and give them to tenants, and others have said the landlords, if guilty, should do jail time. The landlords pleaded not guilty Thursday.
Do you feel the charges are appropriate to the situation? What do you think the city should do in these types of cases?
Two Brooklyn Landlords, Accused of Making Units Unlivable, Are Charged With Fraud [NY Times]
300 Nassau Street Coverage [Brownstoner]
98 Linden Street Coverage [Brownstoner]
Photo by Christopher Bride for PropertyShark