The landlord, Nachman Brach, was cited for not maintaining the sprinkler system, and having an illegal matzo ball factory (kitchens) in the basement. This was not the first time he was cited for building violations, according to The Brooklyn Paper.
One tenant's open letter to the city, describing the absurd and harrowing conditions surrounding the execution of the ousting, is posted here.
I have artist friends in Brooklyn who live under similar conditions, and worse. Sellout has posted some interesting questions about security and non-security in the lives of artists: why so many artists constantly "live on the edge".