Richard D. Lyons, The New York Times, June 7, 1987
Residents of the Belnord, the huge landmark apartment house on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, have taken a cue from conservationists and set up a fund to help rehabilitate their building.
Contributions are to come from rent rollbacks and refunds ordered by the state’s Division of Housing and Community Renewal for two-thirds of the apartments in the building at 201-225 West 86th Street. The action is the latest chapter in what may be the longest and most bitter landlord-tenant battle in the city – dating back 25 years.
Lillian Seril, the Belnord’s owner, is suing more than 100 of the building’s 220 tenants on a series of charges, including: failure to pay rent increases, illegal residency and vandalism. She is seeking to evict about 50 of them. In the last eight years the tenants’ association has spent $350,000 in attorneys fees because of its legal skirmishes with Mrs. Seril.
The tenants view the fund, the Belnord Landmark Conservancy, as an expression of their commitment to the building. Mrs. Seril, however, believes their action is another attempt to gain control of the property.
”We are not looking for lower rents,” said Dr. Thomas Vitullo-Martin, the co-chairman of the Belnord Tenants Association. ”We’re looking for a better building.”
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”We are not looking for lower rents. We’re looking for a better building.”Thomas Vitullo-Martin, co-chair, Belnord Landmark Conservancy