Residents plan lawsuit to remove receiver

Tenants of the Shalom Aleichem Houses will ask a judge to remove the receiver the court appointed to run the historic property.

The 234-apartment, 15-building complex between Giles Place, Sedgwick Avenue, Cannon Place and West 238th Street fell into foreclosure in April 2011 when owner Van Cortlandt Village LLC failed to make mortgage payments and could not negotiate a deal with New York Community Bank.

A Bronx Supreme Court judge appointed Albert Sontag receiver of the complex and he has been running the building since. But tenants are furious about the way the building is being run.

Mr. Sontag hired Soloff Management to manage the property, a job tenants say is not being done to their satisfaction.

At two tenants meetings in the same number of weeks — organized with the help of the Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition — residents complained about skyrocketing rents and removal of preferential rents, repairs not getting attention and being unable to reach anyone when there is a problem.

While residents seemed satisfied with the repairs Mr. Sontag had made shortly after he took over in 2011, things have gone downhill since.

Mr. Sontag has 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.

Some tenants said Mr. Sontag is aggressively trying to get rid of longtime tenants — many of whom have preferential rents — to maximize his profit.

Lawrence Mandelker, an attorney representing Mr. Sontag, said Mr. Sontag has been doing his duty as a receiver and has made “thousands and thousands of dollars” in repairs to the complex.

“His job is to make sure that his properties get the appropriate revenues from them,” Mr. Mandelker said.

A judge determines what percent of the property revenue the manager can collect for its services. The determination is made only once the property comes out of receivership and the amount the receiver can collect maxes out at 5 percent.


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