In June of last year, shortly after the eight-unit, rent-regulated property was purchased by Jamal Alokasheh, the city found illegal work being done in the basement and placed a vacate order on the site, forcing out several longtime residents.
Following a year-long legal battle the order was lifted earlier this month, and tenants staged a dramatic return June 13, breaking the padlocked front door.
But two days later they were kicked out again, after city officials inspecting the site found evidence of further illegal basement renovations.
To add insult to injury, tenants say Alokasheh refused to restore basic services like water and electricity during the brief two-day period they spent back in their homes.
“This little adventure cost me $20,000” in hotel, storage and new rental fees, said one tenant, Peter Pawlak, who is living in a Grand Street apartment while he waits to return to his former home. “We want the building to be restored in a timely manner.”
Pawlak testified in the first round of hearings before Judge Inez Hoyos in Brooklyn Housing Court on June 17, where tenants filed a motion for a court-appointed administrator for the building.
The move would allow an outside party to do the necessary repair work to have the Department of Buildings vacate order lifted.
A silent Alokasheh appeared in court, but was unavailable for comment. More testimony was scheduled for June 22.
Shekar Krishnan, of Brooklyn Legal Services Corporation A, which is representing the tenants in court, said they have a strong case.
“The case is so egregious at this point I don’t think [Alokasheh] has any defense,” Krishnan said. He said the landlord’s actions are part of a larger problem in North Brooklyn, where landlords often attempt to “force out poor tenants so they can rent to wealthier ones.”
Pawlak said he felt pinched to move out from the moment Alokasheh took over the building. Finally “we decided to get together and find help,” he said.