Tenants say a receiver is fixing to take their apartments
By Adam Wisnieski
More than a year after the Shalom Aleichem Houses fell into foreclosure, some residents are furious about the way the court-appointed receiver is running the historic property and are preparing to ask a judge to remove him.
Last year, before the receiver took control of the building, tenants complained of deteriorating conditions at the 234-apartment 15-building complex between Giles Place, Sedgwick Avenue, Cannon Place and West 238th Street.
Conditions got so bad that in April 2011, one building had hundreds of violations and owner Van Cortlandt Village LLC earned a spot on Public Advocate Bill de Blasio’s watchlist of the city’s worst landlords.
That same month, Van Cortlandt Village LLC failed to make mortgage payments and could not negotiate a deal with New York Community Bank, so the building fell into foreclosure and a Bronx Supreme Court judge appointed Albert Sontag as a receiver.
Under Mr. Sontag’s leadership, apartments started getting necessary fixes, workers replaced front door locks and the property started looking better.
But Mr. Sontag has also initiated more than 90 Bronx Housing Court cases against tenants. Some residents said moving trucks are a common sight along Giles Place and Sedgwick Avenue because so many of their neighbors have been pushed out or evicted.
“Every month, there’s people moving out,” said Jeff Hill, who has lived at Shalom Aleichem for 37 years.
Now, some tenants are fighting back against a receiver they say is aggressively trying to get rid of old tenants.
More than a dozen residents have approached real estate lawyer Dan Padernacht — whose father once ran the building and who lives and works at Shalom Aleichem — to help them file a motion in Bronx Supreme Court to have the receiver removed.
Mr. Padernacht would not confirm whether he would represent them but said he believes they have a case.
“I think any judge is going to be concerned about what their court-ordered receiver is doing to the property,” Mr. Padernacht said.
Tenants said Mr. Sontag is eliminating preferential rents to maximize his profit and push old tenants out.