2454 Tiebout Avenue
by Erin Galloway and Alejandra Ibarra
The Bronx Ink has profiled buildings owned by Ved Parkash, who was until recently rated the worst landlord in New York by the Public Advocate’s office. The profiles form part of a wider investigation into housing conditions and tenant harassment in the Bronx. Find other buildings using the panel to the right.
“Thump, thump, thump.” The sound of the porter killing rats resonated throughout apartment building 2454 Tiebout Avenue on a Thursday afternoon in September.
According to residents, the deaf and mute porter, Jose, keeps a tally of rats he has killed. He is up to 300.
Residents remember a time when the 71-unit building on the corner of Tiebout Avenue and 188th Street was the most beautiful apartment building on the block. The now fading paintings of Christopher Columbus and Native Americans are a reminder of what it used to be.
Now, tenants complain the over 40-year-old building is overrun with rats, peeling paint in the hallways and an elevator that breaks down at least once a month.
“Everything is horrible. Rats, roaches, everything in the apartment is falling apart,” said Jody Jimenez, who lives on the fifth floor.
Another tenant, Anna Edwards, has watched the building steadily decline as it has changed hands five times since she first moved in 35 years ago. While her two-bedroom apartment is in good condition, she knows it is an anomaly.
Ved Parkash bought the building in 2012, just months after a truck collided with the side of the building—putting it under a partial vacate order by the Department of Buildings due to shaking and vibrating.
After complaining about the amount of robberies in the lobby and stairwells, marijuana selling and consumption and sex in the hallways, residents came together in asking the building management for better security.
“They [building management] put cameras in because we bugged them to death,” Edwards said. “One night, at 12pm, I go outside my door and there’s a girl giving a blowjob to a guy.”
But even with the recent addition of the cameras and the new locks on the front door, she doesn’t feel safe. She still recommends having an ice pick or pepper spray at all times, including when walking in the hallways inside the building.
On August 2, 2016, the Department of Housing Preservation and Development filed a lawsuit against Parkash. Since the lawsuit was filed, the building manager has been picking up his phone and repairs are being made according to 10 of the current tenants.
“Before the lawsuit, they [the building manager] never answered their phone. Now they do, but I don’t call anymore,” said Juana Guzman, a second floor resident of the building, in Spanish. Guzman gave up on getting repairs done through building management and has spent up to $2800 of her own money fixing things like the walls and ceiling, which had holes and peeling paint when she first moved in.
In the past year, there have been over 400 complaints about the building logged with the Department of Housing Preservation and Development. These complaints come from tenants calling 311 about issues such as the elevator not working, rats and roaches in their apartments and mold. Over 50 percent of the complaints came on one day: July 12, 2016.
Today, there are 17 open environmental control board violations, 10 of which have been open since before Parkash owned the building. Since 2012, 30 of the 34 complaints made to 311 have been related to the elevator.
The building fell into rapid decline, according to Edwards, when it was between managers: the elevator didn’t work for weeks, the lights were cut off and the residents went without heat from the radiators.
“It keeps you angry living here,” she said.