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The ongoing litigation regarding the Prime Apartments building in Lakewood has just gotten cranked up a whole notch more contentious!

Attorney Ian Goldman Esq. representing the tenants has just filed in Court for emergent relief seeking to take the building out of the hands of its landlord and have a Receiver appointed to manage the building instead!

The emergent relief filing, known as an Order To Show Cause, additionally seeks for all eviction proceedings to be ceased, to order the landlord to fully execute the tenants' HUD applications, and to replace the lobby furniture which was removed in response to the filing of the lawsuit, and to grant storage access that was stripped as well.

As first reported here on FAA News, 60 tenants of Prime Apartment tenants have served their landlord and his property manager with a Superior Court lawsuit alleging a long list of illegal rent increases and associated harassment, intimidation and retaliation.

The tenants are Alexander Sternbuch, Shmuel and Rochel Bogart, Dovid Balter, Shmuel Banker, Aaron Beer, Yaakov Cohen, Moshe and Feigy Eisemann, Ezra Esses, Tzvi and Zipora Feifer, Chezky Feigenbaum, Yehoshua Finkel, Yisroel Friedman, Ashi Fuchs, Boruch Gellis, Yaakov Glustein, Yonah Goldberg, Yaakov Gordon, Esther Gorelick, Elozor Greenberger, Shmuel Grunhut, Yehuda Gugenheimer, Alter Halberstam, James Holtzberg, Yisroel Kanarek, Dovid Kaplan, Kirnos, Zev Kramer, Abraham Leibiker, Yehuda and Yehudis Marcus, Steven Meisels, Yisrael Mordowitz, Nochum Naiman, Chayala and Moshe Olshin, Dovid Paskesz, Meir Poltzer, Tzvi Puretz, Shlomo Reidel, Mordechai Reis, Menachem Rosenblum, Dov Rosenman, David Rothstein, Yaakov Schechter, Chaim Schwab, Chanoch Shapiro, Temima and Zachary Shemesh, Naftoli Simon, Yosef and Zizi Simon, Mordechai Snyder, Samuel Tepfer, Yisroel Weiss, and Moshe Wilner.

Defendants are Prime Apartments, which is owned by Cheskel Brach, and Rushmore Management, the property manager.

Following the filing of this lawsuit, as previously reported here on FAA News, Cheskel Brach, the landlord of Prime Apartments, served the tenants with a Hasra'ah (a warning) from the Bais Din of the Central Rabbinical Congress of the U.S.A. and Canada (the CRC).

Additionally, as previously reported here on FAA News, Bais Din Zedek which is under the auspicies of Rav Yisroel Knopfler, has also authored a Hasra'ah against the tenants.

As previously reported here on FAA News, the landlord has answered the lawsuit, alleging that the tenants are the ones in breach of their leases either because they failed to pay their rent, a rent increase, had too many occupants residing in the unit and/or by occupying the unit in a manner inconsistent with the terms of the lease agreement, including by taking up storage units that are not in their lease and they are not paying for the storage.

The landlord is further counter-claiming that the lawsuit was filed or pursued in bad faith, solely for the purpose of harassment, delay or malicious injury, and the tenants knew or should have known that the claims were without any reasonable basis in law and could not be supported by a good faith argument.

Moreover, the tenants violated the terms of their lease agreements by failing to pay rent and over-occupying units, yet they continue to reside in their apartments in clear violation of those terms, thus unjustly enriching themselves.

In their Order To Show Cause filing, tenants are alleging that the landlord is refusing to complete the HUD paperwork for tenants even though this is a HUD approved building. This is against public policy and tenants will be irreparably harmed if relief is not granted.

Additionally, the landlord and property manager are incorrectly advising tenants that the property is not under rent control.

They are seeking to impose an increase of $688 per month per tenant - a 38% increase above the base rent of $1,795.

They are unilaterally terminating lease agreements and increasing rent if tenants do not comply with the increase.

Moreover, they have commenced the eviction process and are threatening evictions for failure to pay the agreed upon illegal and unconscionable unilateral rent increase.

The landlord has advised the tenants that he filed an application to Lakewood Township's Rent Control Board to adjudicate the matter, however, the Township Committee has already abolished this Board.

The day after the lawsuit was filed, the landlord removed the furniture from the lobby and closed access to the storage units, telling the tenants that "storage is not included" in the leases.

Despite the tenants having the right of storage use as advertised, and in unlawful retaliation of the tenants' lawful and protected objections to the Landlord's improper attempts to renege on valid lease agreements, the landlord and property manager have started removing tenants' possessions from common storage areas without their permission. They are also in the process of causing significant damage to the tenants' possessions.

The repeated assaults against the tenants, beyond any reasonable doubt - especially as these assaults and harassment were escalated within 24 hours of the filing of this lawsuit - show that the landlord and property manager are trying to constructively evict the tenants.

Just because Mr. Brach overpaid for a property does not give him permission to take these egregious, unlawful, and illegal actions, especially as the contracts he prepared with the tenants expressly stipulate that he will not raise rents more than 5% at renewal and that he will be bound by Lakewood rent control.

Should the Court not step in, immediate and irreparable harm will continue in the form of not accepting HUD applications, unlawful evictions, damage to quality of life, harassment, damage to credit reports, and damage to reputation.

The tenants also emphasized to the Court that the removal of the furniture from the lobby (which, shockingly, was done on a Friday night!) is not simply act to "minorly inconvenience" the tenants, but more so to intimate and harass them into vacating their apartments so the landlord can then start over with new tenants at an even higher rent amount.

The Order To Show Cause filing seeks emergent relief for the Court to "evict the property owner" and hand over complete possession of the building to a Receiver.

The Receiver shall manage and operate the building, collect rent, maintain the premises, and all other things necessary for the due care and management of the property.

Any persons who would need to be hired to do such services such as accounting, marketing and management, etc, must be "not insiders of or related to" the current landlord and property manager.

The Receiver is to use the rent for his salary and to use any remaining funds to pay the interest on the mortgage.

Accordingly, the landlord and property manager are to be required to hand over all keys to the property to the Receiver. They are to be further enjoined from collecting or accepting any rent from the tenants.

Additionally, the legal filing seeks for the landlord and property manager to fully execute all HUD paperwork submitted by tenants; to temporarily cease any and all evictions; permit unfettered access to the storage access; and to place the lobby furniture back in the lobby.

The landlord and property manager have not yet responded to the Motion for Order To Show Cause.

Judge Valter Must will likely schedule an emergent hearing once the landlord and property manager respond.

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Tracht! said...

1)Of course bnai torah are following daas torah, And aren't just seeking relief but revenge by having him lose his building...... They might not have taken an account that if he would lose his building all leases would be void someone new would come in and charge market rents.....

2) The original post was they were paying $1200 and he wanted to raise it closer to 2k , Now the story is they were paying 1795 and he wants to raise it 688??
3) Not every motion a lawyer thinks up is realistic and has the slightest chance of happening, Sometimes it's just about the lawyer paying his bills.....

Anonymous said...

The ื—ื™ืœื•ืœ ืฉื ืฉืžื™ื ืจ'ืœ is unimaginable. If all involved were truly ื™ืจืื™ื they would figure out a way to resolve their discord.

Anonymous said...

They might not have taken an account that if he would lose his building all leases would be void someone new would come in and charge market rents.....

Not sure where you got your law license- but that is nuts. Leases arent voided because a court inserts a receiver. Even in bankruptcy leases are not voided unless ordered by a judge.

How stubborn can one be not to settle this case. I see a no win for the landlord here whatever he does. This was a bad purchase (if it truly was a purchase and not just a straw buyer) and now its just good money being thrown after bad. Perhaps hes just getting bad legal advice...

Tracht! said...

Standard lease language contains a subordination clause, Which basically gives the bank a right to void the lease if it impacts negatively on their ability to collect mortgage payments. Of course it needs to be OKd by the judge but there's a tremendous difference between something which has already been agreed upon in the lease to something which needs to be plead and the judge making the decision.
Judging from the posts on this website it would seem that the landlord is getting very good legal advice and actually has the upper hand in this disagreement. based on, The contract actually is for $1795. He's not even asking for a raise hes just Asking for amount signed in the contract. The reason they were paying $1200 was a rent concession which is always temporary. He actually won a court case in bais din.... Receiverships are not common they're typically used for when there is substandard housing and the landlord is absent not when there is a dispute. which makes sense that the court should adjudicate the dispute not put it in the receivership. Many of the other minor complaints are bad press but not actionable....Maybe choshuve bnai torah acting with Daas torah Should actually be the ones who take the high road and work out some sort of solution........

Anonymous said...

The comment about the leases getting voided when the building enters receivership is ridiculous. That’s not the way it works. But even it would hypothetically occur, the judge would never permit the receiver to charge more than the rent control ordinance allows for.

Just because Menashe Miller abolished the Board, so he could help out his Westgate landlord buddy, doesn’t in any way change the allowed amount for an annual rent raise under the un-repealed rent control ordinance. Granted that it certainly contributes to a messy situation, but this so-called “market rate” raise doesn’t exist and is not recognized as legal under our current ordinance.

This landlord is fooling himself into thinking that he’s able to bully and intimidate these poor families into submission. He should dump his lawyer and toien and start behaving like a mentsch or else there will be no choice to take away his ability to control.

Anonymous said...

Reb Avrohom Yehoshua said it the best;

The tremendous niche aveilum of 30,000 people were Menachem Rav Bergman at the Adeirei Hatorah arena.

The most enormous Chilul Hashem in Klal Yisroel was having an Ovul during Shiva to participate in the Aderei Hatorah fundraiser.

Anonymous said...

No one claimed the leases will be voided when it enters receivership, Rather bankruptcy which can hypothetically follow, If there was not enough money to pay the mortgage. You're forgetting that They signed a lease for a lot more than they were actually paying, And the amount they signed for Is market Rate today. So the 5% increase does not would expect yeshivaleit to honor their leases......

Anonymous said...

The Botei Dinim are instructing the tenants to enforce ื“ื™ื ื ื“ืžืœื›ื•ืชื, they are proceeding on that path.

BTW- Brach isn't the purchaser he's "an enforcer" by trade.

Anonymous said...

"Botei dinim" no names??.last reported on this blog was he actually went to the bais havaad beis din and won??

Anonymous said...

If you want to see the details for yourself you can go to the nj superior court website and look up civil case docket number L-001100-23. According to the documents Brach raised the rent 38% above the rent stated in their contract. He wrote a letter to the tenants claiming that he is entitled to do this because he should be exempt from rent control, and because he didn’t raise rents since they moved in so he should be entitled to raise by 5% multiplied by however many years they lived there. I can’t link the documents here because the court website doesn’t allow direct linking.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the info
1) One would expect more honesty from yeshiva leit the thermostat on floor!! Of course it Will read colder.. Roughly by 5 to 10๏พŸ.
2) Did they get permission from the rabbis to maasser too? Who gave them permission to show pictures of illegal building???. It has nothing to do with the landlord not allowing them to use the storage. He would not allow them whether he was building or not.shame on them!