A CNNMoney investigation has discovered some of the horrific tactics Donald Trump employed back in 1981 in an attempt to push out rent stabilized tenants —all in an effort to build new luxury apartments and line his pockets with more cash at the expense of many.
It all began when Trump fired the building manager at 100 Central Park South, a building adjacent to New York’s Central Park, then replaced him with Citadel Management--a company that “specialized in relocating tenants," according to his book "The Art of the Deal."
In a court battle that lasted upwards of five years, tenants detail the evil and often illegal tactics that Trump tried to use in order to get his way.
“Mr. Trump is willing to resort to any device or tactic to drive out the tenants from the building,” Dr. Michael Richman said in a court testimony.
CNNMoney reports how far Trump went to bully the tenants out:
"[O]n New Year's Eve, several tenants received identical 'lease violation' warning letters. The previous building owner had given renters permission to knock down walls and renovate their apartment units. But Trump was reversing that exception, and renters had only 12 days to rebuild the walls – or face eviction."
Tenants decided to hire a real estate lawyer that was known for “being particularly aggressive,” and they sued Trump and his company, Park South Associates. A New York state judge then put at least two of the lease violation notices on hold.
It didn’t end there, though:
"In their 1982 lawsuits, the tenants said Trump had cut off their hot water and heat during New York's freezing winters and stopped all building repairs. One claimed he allowed 'a rodent infestation of the premises.' Another said he imposed burdensome new rules in an attempt to force them out.
"For example, Trump's new building manager claimed there was a burglary in the building. Dentists with apartment offices were ordered to send patients to the garbage-filled service elevator, according to building management documents and a dentist's lawsuit that tried to fight it.
Dr. Michael Richman refused to comply with the new rule, complaining in court documents that Trump "mounted a campaign of harassment."
In court papers, Richman said that, “Mr. Trump is willing to resort to any device or tactic to drive out the tenants of the building.”
Another tenant, Anderson Clipper, was sued by Trump and his company for not paying rent on time—despite the fact that he had. A New York City judge called the suit "spurious and unnecessary" and forced Trump to reimburse 5 percent of Clipper’s rent.
Clipper has since passed away, but his estranged wife, Nancy Clipper, remembered the hell her husband went through during Trump’s reign as landlord.
"It was really a horrible experience," she explained to CNNMoney. "He was insensitive, rude, and just a generally nasty man. I would never have considered him presidential."
Trump, in his book, tells a very different story. He explains that the rent that some of the tenants paid barely covered expenses, so he was forced to cut back.
Admittedly, as CNNMoney points out, some of the tenants had mind-blowing deals on their apartments:
"…low-rent homes a short stroll away from Broadway theaters and Carnegie Hall. Dr. Richman paid $700 a month for Apartment 5C. Fashion designer Arnold Scaasi paid $985 for his mind-blowing, six-bedroom with killer views of the park."
Still, Trump did anything and everything he could to get these tenants to move out, even refusing to repair any of the leaky water pipes (causing some tenants to have mushrooms grow under their beds after 10 months of water leaks and no repairs).
"They didn't want any repairs done. No cleaning. No accepting of packages," the building's superintendent Anthony Ramirez said, according to transcripts from a court hearing.
That was still only the beginning. Trump then put an ad in a newspaper offering shelter for homeless people in the building. He then asked Ramirez to spy on the tenants and monitor "the personal habits of the tenants.”
In a sworn affidavit signed April 18, 1985, Trump, of course, denies all of these claims:
"First, Trump claimed he didn't directly run the building owner, Park South Associates (even though corporate documents show he owned 60% of the company and was the only listed officer). Then he swore he kept the building in tip-top shape. Plus, a previous year's inspection by New York state's housing agency backed him up, finding that 'all public areas were clean.'
"But in 1985, that same state agency went after Trump too. New York state's Division of Homes and Community Renewal sued, charging him with harassing tenants. Months later, the city of New York filed a similar suit."
It got to a point where the tenants’ association put together a deal to offer Trump $15 million in order to buy the building from Trump—he used that opportunity to accuse the renters “of shady behavior,” saying "waging a ceaseless guerrilla-type war... to coerce a bargain sale of the building.” But CNNMoney says this was just an attempt to cover up his real mission.
Clipper is right: is this really the kind of behavior one would expect from a president?
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