Sunset Garden owners say they’ve been maligned, defend their record

Daniel Goldstein, managing partner of E&M Management, the owners of local residential properties like 217-unit Sunset Garden, said his company has been painted in an inaccurate and unfavorable light by some residents and Town of Ulster officials.

“I know me, per se, not just our team,” said Goldstein in an interview. “We’re the type of landlords that care very, very much.”

E&M Management purchased Sunset Garden at 45 Birch Street and Lakeshore Villas, a 151-unit property in Port Ewen, from Morgan Communities in March of this year for $44 million, expanding a local portfolio which also includes Kingston Waterfront and 30 Black Creek Road in Highland. According to its website, most of their other properties are in Nassau County and Far Rockaway, a Queens neighborhood not far from their headquarters in Lawrence.

Advertisement

Residents from some of those properties, including Sunset Garden, met at the Russell Brott Senior Center last month, a gathering attended by municipal leaders and local legislators. They described a property falling into disrepair and a property owner unwilling to do anything about it. They said tenants were not having their leases renewed to put them in a more precarious position of being subject to eviction on a whim as retaliation for speaking up, and at least two tenants said that was exactly what had happened to both of them. They said intimidation was used as means to an end, the dismissal of residents who might be home during the day, older tenants, and those who challenged E&M with the hopes of replacing them with potentially deep-pocketed millennials.

Goldstein and Yitzhak “Yitz” Horowitz, E&M’s director of property management, said the claims against them are categorically untrue, and say both their behavior and paperwork prove it.

“When we first took over the building, of course the building was [in] neglect,” said Goldstein. “The first thing that we did is, we installed smoke detectors in the hallways, with emergency lighting, we changed all the lighting to LED lighting, and we started painting the hallways. That was over $100,000 right there. We’re still not done with the hallways, we’re painting them. It’s a lot of work, it’s a lot of buildings, and to do that kind of work it’s a big undertaking.”

Goldstein described other work E&M has undertaken at Sunset Garden, including replacing sewer mains in three buildings (between $35,000-40,000 for each), the replacement of numerous terraces with rotten wood ($30,000), apartment renovations (over $150,000), fixing concrete in exterior stairways ($25,000), and pool repairs ($30,000).

“Then we went ahead and we installed a playground,” said Goldstein, which he said came with a $120,000 price tag and was the result of an informal survey of tenants during a community barbecue in the spring. Goldstein added that the playground will not be complete until the spring, because while the structure has already been installed, work to complete the safety foam surfacing surrounding the playground cannot be undertaken until the threat of snowfall has passed.

“And I can promise you this, you can go to any county, any town, any village, any city, you won’t find any municipal park as nice as hours,” said Horowitz. “The school district should bus their kids in to play on our playground. That’s how nice it is. I’m not kidding. If I had this park in my backyard as a child, it’s like a dream come true.”

Goldstein said that the claim that most tenants have not been offered new leases is inaccurate, adding that it wouldn’t make financial sense as a property owner to lose tenants.

“We need to pay the mortgage,” he said. “Because if we can’t pay the mortgage then we can just go to bankruptcy. We need the tenants, we want them to be happy, we don’t want the turnover. Why in the world would we want to go there and upset the wheel? That is not our intention.”

Horowitz also disputed claims that he opposed the idea of a tenants’ association, saying that he’d attended their first meeting, but that he hadn’t been invited back, something he said may be contributing to the perceived disconnect between tenants and management.

“It’s unfortunate, because the whole idea of a tenants’ association is that you do want to get things done, and you do want solutions, and you do want answers,” he said. “I don’t understand what else is the reason for it.”

There was also a claim by tenants that E&M has been arbitrarily charging tenants water and sewer fees without having the means to determine usage. Horowitz said that tenants were being billed for water and sewer by Morgan Communities before E&M bought the property, and that the practice is encouraged by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) to give consumers a sense of the impact their choices have. Furthermore, Goldstein added, E&M isn’t coming up with the figures they charge tenants, it’s done by American Utility Management, an Illinois-based company that coordinates billing for multifamily properties.

“They have sensors on each riser that goes to the apartments, and they measure somehow the water,” said Goldstein. “We don’t do it. They bill us for each tenant, we pay the master bill and then we bill the tenant. They show us what they charge. We have no way of doing it. This is an outside company that does it for everyone.”

But it’s not just tenants who are seeing issues at Sunset Garden, it’s also Town of Ulster Building Inspector Kathryn Moniz, who said she spends one day each week dealing with problems on the property.

“I have matters of infestation, both rats and roaches,” said Moniz last month. “I have floors that are lifting. We’ve had sewer backups that were not taken care of like they’re supposed to be, which led to an issue of sanitation. We have handrails in common halls that serve no purpose because one is attached at the top but not at the return. I have big, gaping holes in the hallways that I’ve asked to be fixed because it’s a fire issue. They’ve taken out a laundry facility, and now I think there’s one for the whole complex. We have lighting issues.”

E&M acknowledges that some of the issues raised by Moniz are true, but they added that they’re problems the company inherited due to a poor maintenance record by the previous owner and that they’re still trying to work their way through them.

“And it’s going to take time, of course, to bring it back up to where it should be,” said Goldstein. “Obviously it can’t happen overnight. But one thing I can tell you is that by the spring most of these issues are going to be fixed. Because it takes about a year once you take over to do all the repairs.”

E&M said tenants may still be getting used to how they maintain a property, preferring to have an on-site superintendent rather than an office that’s only open during regular business hours. They added that the super, Richard Thompson, is a licensed plumber who can deal with numerous issues that might arise, narrowing the response time because they don’t always have to seek assistance from elsewhere.

Goldstein said that there’s a reason people are wary of landlords, though that necessarily doesn’t mean all landlords are bad.

“There are a lot of landlords out there that are not good, that give a bad name to landlords,” he said. “And I personally don’t like them myself, and I don’t want to even be associated with those people. Yet on the other hand, we are not those kind of people. We care in everything that we do. We are large landlords, yes we are. But we care. But obviously there’s always going to be some complaints somewhere, especially when we’re the size of landlords that we are, of certain tenants.”

Horowitz said that the impression people may be getting of E&M from disgruntled tenants is incorrect.

“We’re all about transparency, we’re all about just, you know, getting the truth out and working together with everyone,” he said. “That’s all we’re trying to do.”

There are 7 comments

  1. Jenn

    I moved into Sunset Gardens in March of 2017. I NEVER paid for water! The only thing I paid for was electric and cable. Whenever I had a maintenance issue I would call or walk over to the office and Mike or Jean would have someone at my apartment within an hour. The main problems I had were: backup sewage into my bathtub, the toilet was wobbly, and the dishwasher was always plugging up. They came out each time but the building was so old they did their best to fix the issues. Once E&M took over the first thing we as tenants had to do was set up an account with them online to pay our rent. They charged a $10 fee for this. They also started charging $25 for a tiny storage unit under the stairs that I was using for storage. If you had a big storage locker in the laundry room they charged $75 but no one used them because they were broken.

    I asked about my dishwasher once a week, I was told that they had ordered brand new ones and they were waiting for them to come in. Three months later when I called again about my dishwasher (still not working) and was wondering when the new ones were coming in I was told that the dishwashers were no longer being made.

    The laundry facility across the hall from my apartment had 2 washers and 2 dryers, half the time only 1 dryer worked.

    When I called for maintenance issues I was told that there was a waiting list and emergencies were first but yet all I ever seen were guys with leaf blowers going around the complex making sure the landscaping was clean. The beautiful dog park is a joke!

    Around June of this year my daughter was looking outside and a rat ran out of the drainage hole. I seen one of the property workers walking by and asked if the superintendant was on site and he told me yes he was over by the pool. I walked over there and there was 4 guys standing around a truck not doing anything. I told the super there was a rat and needed someone to come over immediately. He said he would be right on it. No one ever came!

    When my apartment finally went to the top of the list for repairs the maintence guy told me he is the ONLY one that does repairs and he apologized for the wait. I told him I was moving in a month and it was pointless.

    These people are lying to the media to save face! I am so glad I got out when I did!

  2. Nicole

    I moved into Sunset Gardens October of 2016. The previous staff and management weren’t perfect but they were very pleasant and helpful when needed. In November of 2016, there was a fire in the apartment above us. We had water damage in the kitchen but the staff was very prompt at getting the issue resolved.
    There was another fire in our building September 2018, after the new management took over. Our door was damaged from the firemen breaking in to check to see if anyone was home, the fire chief stayed behind to inform the management that we needed a new door as our door would no longer lock. Although the fire happened on a Sunday we didn’t hear anything back until the following Wednesday. We had to miss multiple days of work because we couldn’t risk leaving the apartment while our door wouldn’t lock.
    After they finally addressed the issue, they did not replace the door but rather attempted to repair the doorknob. They put a lock on there that wouldn’t lock and called it fixed. We had to call an inspector to come out and look at the damage before they decided to fix it again. The door did not fit on the door jam that well anymore so the bottom lock that was in the doorknob could not be locked. The top lock could be locked but it would take two people, one to hold the door pulled tightly and the other to lock the lock. I have photographic proof of the before and after they “fixed” the door that I would be more than happy to provide if contacted.
    We had an issue with a leak in the pipes under our sink. We called and asked for repairs and it took them over a week to send someone out to fix it and after the repair the leak was actually worse than it was before he came out. This was even more annoying when you realize all the minor cosmetic additions they were making that didn’t seem to do anything. The apartment to the right of us had a light added that would flash like a strobe light all night and it was right outside of a family’s window.
    With the previous management we had to start paying for trash pick up which was annoying but it was only 10 dollars extra a month so we made do. With the new management they began wanting to hike up the prices and add fees for just about everything, including heat; which living in New York is a necessity. Plus, the heat wasn’t that great in the first place as the heaters were ancient.
    People began moving out in droves as the prices were getting ridiculous for the conditions we had to live under. The laundry rooms were terrible and kind of creepy to go down to. The dryers didn’t dry well at all and we had to just go to the local laundromat. We had to pay for amenities we couldn’t use as they closed down the gym we were paying to for use of a pool that was closed for most of the summer that we weren’t too interested in using anyway.
    The floors creaked if you looked at them too hard. No matter how soft you tried to walk they still made way too much noise and we never had an upstairs neighbor that tried to walk softly anyway. The floors were so loud you couldn’t tell whether they were upstairs or in the apartment with you. While we understand there isn’t much the staff could do about the noise, the rent was already too high for what we lived in and the new management looked to increase it even more. Sunset Gardens is in need of heavy repairs and I don’t believe for a second that this newer management would be inclined to do a thing about them.

  3. Cj

    These people are lying through their teeth. We just moved out of Sunset Gardens in October of 2018 and I’m so thankful we did. Their park isn’t anything extraordinary, it’s a cute little playground but it doesn’t justify their prices. It’s the absolute truth that people aren’t getting lease renewals because our lease was up in October and for months beforehand we didn’t hear a thing about it. I can’t say much about my personal experience with infestation. We had a spider problem but that was just the usual apartment issues. This company owns multiple apartment complexes from Kingston to Port Ewen and they are almost universally despised by the tenants. They made paying your rent complicated because you could no longer drop it off at the office as no one from the company worked onsite. You had to mail your rent in or you could do it online but you had to pay some kind of convenience fee to do it. It honestly feels like they’re trying to buy up all the properties in Kingston and raise the prices up to make it only for a higher class of people. Soon New York won’t be for anyone other than the rich.

    1. Alison

      I agree that the propertyowners are lying. When the oroperties were purchased in March, 2018, all news articles quoted Daniel Goldstein as saying that the properties were in excellent condition. That’s a terrific untrue publicity statement.
      With all of the recent tenant backlash, the property owners are stating that the properties showed neglect. It cannot be both ways. How could the owners say that the properties were excellent and now state that the properties were neglected? In essence, E&M has maligned itself with their own mistruths or lies.
      Sunset & Lakeshore had major problems at the March, 2018 purchase. With the former owners, the tenants had a lifeline and a way to illicit a response from the staff. Problems were addressed by the previous owners, but cheap and ineffective means were used.
      With E&M, the problems have escalated because there is simply NOT enough staff & very poor supervision.
      What I cannot figure out are the lies perpetuated by E&M, & what this company expects to gain by their lies & very ineffective maintenance. os E&M purposely heading towards bankruptcy. It’s time that someone considers the game plan of E&M. It all just does not make sense. The company is obviously soending money, but just what are they white washing? Why are trnants complaining? Legislators best better find out, now! Who is being bamboozled ? Answers, please!!!

  4. Alison

    Has anyone weighed the words used in the article posted in MHN.com on 3/23/18 by owner Danny Goldstein, when the complex was first bought that March, 2018? And I quote,
    WE WERE ATTRACTED TO LAKESHORE & SUNSET BECAUSE OF THE HIGH OCCUPANCY RATE, EXCELLENT PROPERTY CONDITION… Was that statement for the bank or public relations? Now, the property shows inherent neglect! OH WHAT A TANGLED WEB WE WEAVE, WHEN FIRST WE PRACTICE TO DECEIVE. Neither Sunset nor Lakeshore were purchased on excellent condition, but both complexes were serviced in a substandard non cost effective wa . The issue, now, is that even that poor substandard service has been eliminated ib rhe name of a WORK IN PROGRESS. Someone’s playing a dangerous game with the real truth and the real motive behind these purchases. As a result, Ulster Counry legislators and its citizenry are becoming the fall guys. TIME FOR ACTION! TIME TO WAKE UP!

  5. Alison

    The assessment reduction for Lakeshore Villas, Town of Esopus in June 2017′ went from 6.6 million to 6.4 million that will be a lasting figure until 2021. E&M purchased both Lakeshore and Sunset Gardens with a loan from Kearney Bank of 33 million in March, 2018. The total purchase cost for both properties, cited by E&M as in “Excellent condition”, was 44 million. The new owners came in and starting rehabilitating the ‘Excellent’ units & left behind a mess, such as gaping holes at Sunset, lighting & roof issues at Lakeshore and tenants in an uproar over poor maintenance problems.
    Please somehow help explain all this. Lakeshore is assessed at 6.4million, until 2021. The two purchases totaled 44 million with a Kearney Bank loan of 33 million. Is this cost effective for E&M? What exactly is going on? I have heard that there are many tenant complaints at Black Creek and Kingston Landing, as well, two other Ulster County properties owned by E&M. Why would E&M want tenants to complain? It seems that the company is purposely causing problems with its poor & ineffectual
    maintenance system. PLEASE SOMEONE, WHAT IS HAPPENNG HERE??? I JUST CAN NOT FIGURE IT OUT! ANYONE???

  6. Jodi Subeh

    I moved into the complex August 2018 and out December 2018. I am vacating my apartment due to health and safety concerns brought on by the management and maintenance staff violating their portion of the lease agreement. In the short time I have resided here I have had many issues that have gone unresolved. I have had electrical issues with my ceiling fan and outside light, plumbing issues which include my toilet continually running (every 2-3 minutes which is not only a waste of water but is very loud and causes sleep deprivation throughout the night) and water backs up into the bathroom sink when no water is being used in the apartment. None of the windows lock, which is a safety concern as I am on the ground floor. I have contacted the realtor, Stephanie, maintenance staff, Rich, Shane, and Jeff on multiple occasions. I did not receive a return call. I have submitted online service requests with no responses. Below is a list of issues I have had to endure.

    I moved to the apartment complex on August 19, 2018, signing a one year lease. I was told they would be replacing the carpet, cleaning the apartment,  and replacing them the vertical blinds because all of the slats were broken or missing.

    *The carpet was replaced, however the apartment was not cleaned. There were pieces of carpeting all over, debris from leaf blowing the gutters were in my screens and on my patio which were supposed to be cleaned but were not. The apartment was dirty, windows were not cleaned. Closet doors do not have tracks on the bottom and swing back and forth. 

     *They did not replace the blinds. In all 20 or more slats were broken or missing. The existing blinds basically served no purpose in covering the patio door or windows. The realtor advised she would contact maintenance. There was no response. I was left with no choice but to incur the expense of replacing the blinds on my own. 

    *I was not given keys to my apartment for 5 days after I moved in. This forced me to leave my sliding patio door open each time I had to go out (work, etc.), leaving my 2 dogs and all my belongings at risk while I was gone. I still have not received my laundry or fitness card. 

    *There were no light bulbs in any light fixtures in the apartment. I was told this would be done before I moved in, it was not. I incurred another expense with this. 

    *The outside light flickers and dims constantly when it is turned on. This has not been repaired to date. 

    *There was so much plaster where the vertical blinds were hung that they fell out of the wall. When replacing them with curtains I had to work around the hole in the wall. 

     *The toilet has been constantly running since the day I moved in. It runs and fills up constantly. It started at every 10 minutes, it is now running every 2-3 minutes. We called Rich numerous times about this and finally his secretary gave us Shane’s telephone number. Maintenance came but did not fix it, the problem got worse. As I said it runs every 2-3 minutes and is extremely loud. On Veterans Day the toilet over flowed twice. I called both Shane and Rich’s telephone numbers but there was no answer from either. Not only that but there was never a return call from either to date. 

     *The bathroom sink backs up with water when no water is being used in the apartment. 

    *The living room ceiling fan has malfunctioned since I moved in. The fan was extremely loose from the ceiling as if it were going to fall. My Aunt called Rich numerous times. She told him it was an electrical concern and she was going to contact Supervisor Quigley. Rich then returned her call and scheduled an appointment to fix it. The staff was a no call, no show that day. She called again and they finally showed up. They tightened the fan to the ceiling and attached the wiring better. They also checked the toilet that day. After they left I continued to have the same problem. However,
    After about 10 minutes of the fan being on the fan shorts out, the lights flicker, and the toilet is still running. This is a fire hazard and a serious safety concern. 

    *There are inconsistencies in the monthly rent statements. Some months my rent statement says there was no prior month payment made. My records show rent is paid in full and timely each month. There is a water bill issue that has been on going and you are aware of it. Given the ongoing problem of the toilet running being charged for water is inaccurate and unfair. 

    *The yard areas and certain areas of the parking lot were cleared of leaves using leaf blowers. The leaves were blown into the parking lot in a huge pile. This caused clogged drains, parking spots to be taken from the tenants and caused a slippery hazard with recent rain and snow storms. 

    *We recently had an accumulation of snow. There was no snow plowing (other than the main road in) or shoveling done. The snow and ice mixed with the leaves caused a true hazard. I shoveled the sidewalk from my building to the parking lot and also a neighbors building as they are seniors and there was a great risk of someone falling and getting hurt. I myself hurt my back as the snow was wet and heavy. This should have been done by maintenance or an outside vendor. 

     Their have indeed been sightings of rats on my stoop coming in and out of my drain holes.

    Given the above experiences I have come to the conclusion it was in my best interest for my health and safety to move out of this apartment. It has become clear in the past 3 1/2 months that the management and staff of Sunset Gardens will not fulfill their obligations of the lease agreement

Post Your Thoughts