2006_11_east9th.jpgAn interesting tenant-landlord dispute is unfolding in the East Village. At 337 East 9th Street, landlord Mark Ramer is trying to evict tenants Raymond Verdaguer and Weiwen Ke, claiming they interfered with construction of a penthouse, plus sue them for $750,000 in damages. am New York reports that Verdaguer and Ke say they simply reported dangerous working conditions. Here's AMNY on the suit:

The suit contends that Verdaguer, who has lived in the apartment for 15 years and pays $700 a month in rent, broke the terms of his lease by not allowing construction workers into his apartment so that they could do penthouse-related work. It also seeks damages, saying Verdaguer interfered with the landlord's business relationship with the contractors. The suit claims that Verdaguer harassed construction workers, filed false claims, and constantly called building inspectors to the site.

When you're paying $700/month for 15 years on East 9th Street, your landlord will do anything to get you out. And we imagine that quite a few building owners might try to create construction that inconveniences the rent stabilized tenants (new tenants that will pay market rate plus making the rent stabilized ones crazy!).

Verdauger and Ke's lawyers hope that the suit will be dismissed. But housing advocates are concerned, because most landlord suits are brought against community groups (not individual tenants). If the suit progresses, the Urban Justice Center says it "could have a potentially chilling effect across the city on tenants who try and use the courts and proceedings at various city departments to challenge their landlords."