Tenants Taped Conversations to Support Harassment Allegations
Rent-stabilized tenants of an East Village apartment building recently submitted audio and video recordings to housing court depicting the owner’s agents as engaging in a campaign of harassment to force them out. The evidence is part of a months-long dispute at the building between the property management company and a group of tenants at the building.
This case may be indicative of a growing trend among disgruntled tenants of using technology such as smart phones to record leaks or other bad conditions and covert recordings of people they claim have been harassing them. Recordings often figure in the city’s housing disputes, but usually it has been the owner who has used the technology, capturing video that might show, for example, tenants violating their leases by renting their apartments to tourists.
In New York, it is generally legal for one person to record a conversation with another person without consent, though recordings must be authenticated to be admitted at trial, under rules of evidence that require information such as when and where they were taken.
The developer bought the six-story, 10,000-square-foot building in January, paying $6.1 million. In August, state investigators issued subpoenas as part of a probe into allegations that the owner and his agents threatened tenants with police raids and eviction while shutting off essential services like gas and hot water. The owner is placing the blame on the management company.