Many of us are all too familiar with the slummy landlord. He lurks in the dark shadows of our fair city, waiting to drain our bank accounts in exchange for cheap utilities and a security deposit that, let’s face it, is probably half-way to Mexico.

And now, he strikes again. On December 15th, an unidentified mystery person broke into 300 Nassau Avenue and smashed the building’s water main, boiler, electric meters and thermostat with an ax.

According to the tenants of the six-unit building, landlords, Aaron and Joseph Israel, were the ax wielders. Yes, dear readers, this was a potential case of SABOTAGE

The landlords wanted  the City to issue a vacate order, which is exactly what happened, leaving longtime tenants homeless for the winter months. The goal? To clear out rent stabilized residents and replace them with market-rate renters, i.e. more $$$ for the slumlords.

According to the Brooklyn Paper, resident Catalina Hidalgo, who has lived in the building since 2004, was paying $754 per month for her two-bedroom apartment, while the average two-bed in Greenpoint goes for $2,676.  The landlords tried to buy her out before, when workers knocked out a supporting beam in the building, which caused her bathroom to sag dangerously and left traces of asbestos in the air. Oh, and to make matters a little more prescient, Hidalgo has twin toddlers.


Nick’s Alliance, an organization that represents tenant rights, said that these ridiculous tactics are increasingly common among North Brooklyn landlords.

Luckily the tenants were able to get help from St. Nicks and Brooklyn A and took the landlords to Housing Court last Wednesday. They wanted to receive a court-appointed temporary building administrator to make the repairs necessary for them to return home.

The Judge didn’t accept that request immediately, instead scheduling a building inspection on January 15th. After the results of the inspection are in, pending results, an administrator will be appointed.

Meanwhile the doors to 300 Nassau are still padlocked and tenants are currently living either in temporary public housing (in East New York) or with family and friends.

Catalina told me that she and her two-year olds are currently staying at friend’s house.

Do any of you live in or near this building? Or have you ever had Aaron and Joseph Israel as landlords? Apparently they also own buildings in Bushwick…

Check back for updates next week. 

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