Court-ly Landlords

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If you are poor and live in the Bronx, landlord lawyers have a message for you: See you in court.

Bronx tenants are far more likely to be dragged into Housing Court–and ultimately kicked out of their apartments–than tenants in any other borough, according to a stunning new study of court data by the non-profit Citizens Advice Bureau.

Even though the Bronx ranks fourth among the five boroughs in tenant population, it leads the city in almost all housing court actions initiated by landlords. Bronx courts also ranked first in counter-motions filed by tenants in danger of imminent eviction.

Despite having about half as many tenants, the Bronx has matched Brooklyn’s average of about 5,700 evictions a year in the 1990s.

Bronx Housing Court is the busiest because of the large size of most apartment buildings in the borough and the low incomes of the tenants, says David Rubel, the report’s author. Bigger buildings, run by big management companies, often have the resources to retain lawyers to file rafts of nonpayment claims against tenants. Over 75 percent of South Bronx tenants live in buildings with more than 20 apartments, compared to 44 percent in Brooklyn.

“In other poor neighborhoods, you have much smaller buildings run by smaller-time landlords,” Rubel said, “They don’t have the money to take tenants to court whenever they feel like it. In the Bronx, it’s a totally different situation.”

Bronx lawyers also pursue out-of-court settlements less frequently, Rubel explained, because only 6.3 percent of Bronx tenants have lawyers of their own. The citywide average is around 15 percent. For the report, call: 718-365-0910.

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