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Koslowitz offering free legal assistance for renters

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City Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz’s (D-Forest Hills) office is offering free legal guidance for renters in an attempt to help them deal with everything from tenant/landlord disputes to noise complaints.

Residents in Koslowitz’s district, which includes Forest Hills, Rego Park, Kew Gardens and parts of Maspeth and Elmhurst, can seek the free help from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. every Wednesday evening at the councilwoman’s office at 118-35 Queens Blvd., Koslowitz announced last week. Her office is on the 17th floor.

“The 29th Council District is comprised of a large portion of tenants, including myself,” Koslowitz said. “Tenants are entitled to know their rights, which is why I am glad to announce office hours for guidance on these matters.”

Barry Goldstein, an attorney from Forest Hills and an expert in landlord-tenant issues, will be available each Wednesday night to discuss constituents’ legal concerns. Goldstein had done the same thing for former Councilwoman Helen Sears and Koslowitz when she held office eight years ago.

While Goldstein said he is available to discuss a wide range of legal concerns with residents, he said residents living in the many large apartment buildings in Koslowitz’s district tend to be primarily concerned with tenant-landlord issues.

“We get disputes where they need to go to court because they can’t pay the rent or because they can’t get the landlord to fix the violations,” Goldstein said. “It’s better if you have the resources to hire a lawyer and go to housing court, but many of the constituents just don’t have the resources. We give them legal guidance in terms of what they need to do in housing court. If you give them a sense of what will happen, what they need to say, it’s pretty useful for them.”

Residents have also sought help from Goldstein for noise complaints.

“A big issue is noisy neighbors, upstairs neighbors making a racket,” he said. “There will be a senior citizen on rent control for 35 years who’s lived in the same apartment and they’ve never had a problem and all of a sudden there’s a tenant making a tremendous amount of noise during all hours of the day and night.”

Tenants facing eviction or who have not been able to make rent can also seek help from Koslowitz’s office.

“People will lose their jobs, fall behind on rent and not know what to do,” Goldstein said. “Sometimes the situation is such that they need to go to social services. We can tell them what their options are and if they have to go to court what will happen there.”

For more information, call 718-544-8800.

Reach reporter Anna Gustafson by e-mail at agustafson@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.

Updated 5:49 pm, October 10, 2011
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