A lengthy battle between Lower East Side property owner Samy Mahfar and residents in four buildings is over, at least for now.
In the past year, they took Mahfar to housing court, accusing the local landlord of exposing them to toxic dust during building renovations, cutting off vital services and harassing them with the intention of forcing rent stabilized tenants out of their homes. Now the two sides have settled cases at 22 Spring St., 210 Rivington St., 102 Norfolk St. and 113 Stanton St. The tenants were represented by the Urban Justice Center. Two advocacy groups, Cooper Square Committee and CAAAV, have helped the residents organize against Mahfar.
In the four buildings, Mahfar agreed to pay 23 tenants who brought the lawsuits about $205,000 in rent abatements. According to the settlement documents, “the rent abatements are intended as reimbursement of past rent paid based on demolition and construction conditions (in the buildings) that allegedly deprived (the tenants) of full use and occupancy of their apartments…”
The agreements also require Mahfar’s firm, SMA Equities, to follow all city regulations, safe building practices and EPA procedures for handling lead-based paint. They compel the real estate management firm to clear all violations recorded by the city’s Department of Buildings and to submit buyout offers to tenants only in writing. In the past, tenants have complained about being harassed by outside “tenant relocation specialists.” The agreement requires tenants to provide access to their apartments by work and maintenance crews, as long as proper notice has been given.
In a statement, Mahfar said, “I am pleased we were able to reach amicable agreements, and appreciate the efforts made by the tenants, elected representatives and the court. This resolution allows us to continue improving the housing stock for working New Yorkers and allows the tenants to move forward with their lives.”
Mahfar sold 210 Rivington St. last spring for $12.5 million. He purchased it two years earlier for $7.6 million.