Tag Archives: Zara Realty

More tenants come out against Jamaica landlord


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

Fifteen more families in apartment complexes throughout Jamaica have joined the fight against their landlord, who they said constantly harasses them for money.

In December 2011, tenants of 90-36 149th Street filed suit against Zara Realty, which manages the building complex. Among the host of complaints, the tenants alleged unfair and repeated rent increases and a laundry list of basic repairs left disregarded.

Now, Robert McCreanor, director of legal services at the Catholic Migration Office — which represents the tenants — said the agency has asked the court to allow 15 more families from four other buildings managed by Zara Realty to be added to the lawsuit.

According to McCreanor, more tenants reached out to Catholic Migration, saying they are constantly being charged and harassed for bills they don’t owe. McCreanor said the tenants have been taken to court by their landlord, are regularly sent automated calls many times a day and have even been threatened to be reported to the credit bureau.

“This is a big problem,” said Eduardo Barahona, executive director of Centro Hispano Cuzcatlan — an advocacy group working directly with the tenants. “It’s frustrating that we still can’t stop this harassment after so many years.”

Barahona said he has been helping these tenants for close to 10 years, battling the same landlord and the same issues. He said he helps connect the tenants to Catholic Migration due to the fact that the majority of them predominantly speak Spanish.

“I hope there will be some kind of resolution. I hope things will be better,” Barahona said.

Meanwhile, George Subraj, president of Zara Realty, said the accusations are false.

“That’s not true. To harass someone for money, it’s a big, big thing,” he said. “You have to have just and proper cause. They have to actually owe the money. We have to prove that. I can justify that the moneys are indeed owed.”

According to Subraj, rent is due for each tenant at the first of every month. While residents have a five day grace period, he said any late payments after five days warrant “an oral demand” in the form of a telephone call once a month and then a legal, written demand if the first goes unanswered.

However, he said he has never called tenants more than once a month if they owe money, and he denied sending any automated calls.

Subraj did admit to taking several tenants to court due to “chronic non-payments.”

“One tenant was 40 times late with payment, and another was three months late,” he said, adding that some tenants are now under lenient court-ordered repayment plans. “We are really meticulous, and a lot of people don’t like that.”

McCreanor said the motion to add the extra families is pending and a decision would be reached by March 8.

 

Tenants angry over rent, lack of repairs at Jamaica apartment complex


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Tenants in one apartment complex in Jamaica have filed suit against their landlord, alleging unfair and repeated rent increases and a laundry list of basic repairs left disregarded.

“A lot of people are moving out of the building,” said Nelson Lopez, a tenant in the complex located at 90-36 149th Street. “Some people just can’t pay the rent because the landlord keeps raising it.”

Among the host of complaints, tenants say they live with vermin, leaky roofs, mold, rotting cabinets, cracked floors, broken locks and inadequate heat.

According to Eric Bederman, spokesperson for the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD), in regards to complaints filed through 3-1-1, “there are no open housing code violations at this property and the agency does not have any pending litigation against the owner for anything at the property.”

However, a large-scale “full roof-to-cellar” inspection of the building has not been conducted, he said.

Bederman also said an HPD housing code inspector did issue a heat and hot water violation for a room in one apartment in the complex in February, but he said the landlord complied and corrected the issue.

“If something is not right, I can guarantee it will be fixed instantly,” said landlord George Subraj, president of Zara Realty which manages the building complex. “I always immediately attempt to fix the problems, but [the tenants] don’t let me into their apartments or give me access to get the repairs done. I always check to make sure we are doing good work.”

Subraj said the accusations of vermin and unsanitary conditions within the complex are false, believing most of the complaints and anger stem from the increase in rent after capital improvements were made throughout the building.

“This is a vendetta. It’s only noise they’re making. All this hoopla is for nothing,” Subraj said. “They just don’t want to pay.”

According to Subraj, the monthly rent went up an additional $61 per room. He said the tenants agreed to comply with rent increases — that stem from building-wide improvements — when they signed their lease.

The improvements completed before 2009 included adding new roofing and vandal-resistant doors, water proofing bricks and fixing elevators, intercom systems and boilers.

Subraj said the rent increases were approved by the state, but the Department of Homes and Community Renewal (HCR) declined to comment on the increase due to privacy laws.