815 Gerard Avenue
by Shibani Gokhale
Additional reporting by Majlie de Puy Kamp
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.
Averille Huggins has been living at 815 Gerard Avenue in the Bronx for 43 years and can remember a time when the building was beautiful. “We had a lawn and small bushes just outside the door that are now covered in concrete. We had a fireplace and mirrors in the lobby. It was well maintained and cleaned,” she said.
The building, which was once aesthetically pleasing, now looks dreary and run down. The main door has seen better days and the walls inside are peeling due to water damage. The lobby area is bare and unkempt.
Bianca Jones, another long term tenant in the building, has issued repeated requests for repairs that she says have fallen on deaf ears.
“So many tenants got fed up and left the building,” said Jones, 72. “But I have lived here for over 30 years. My daughter grew up here. My cousins live here. I am not leaving.”
Current rent stabilization laws in the city permit landlords to increase the rent by 20 percent when new tenants move into an apartment. If apartments are not vacated, the rent for continuing tenants can only be increased by up to one percent annually.
Ved Parkash bought the building in 2005 and since then it has been in a constant state of disrepair. The building has over 245 violations with the Department of Buildings and the Department of Housing Preservation and Development. Elevator malfunctions and leaks represent the most common complaints.
“We have been stuck in the elevator two or three times and the firemen had to be called to get us out,” said Jones. “The ceiling cracks and leaks are never fixed. The floors are never polished, or even mopped for that matter.”
The tenants also claim that Parkash does not permit them to install washing machines in their apartments, even though this is not explicitly prohibited by their lease agreements: a ban that runs contrary to New York State guidelines. “The superintendent noticed I had a machine in my apartment,” said tenant Karl Palmer. “In two days there was an eviction notice on my door. I had to go to court, but I won the case and I was allowed to keep it.”
Segundo Lliguicota, 32, has been working as the superintendent of 815 Gerard Avenue for the last two years but has been a resident of the building for eight years. He says he needs to wait for landlord approval and an official work order before he can go ahead and address complaints. “As soon as I receive confirmation from the landlord I carry out the repairs, but not until then,” he said.
This may explain the delays Palmer, 69, says are common for repairs. “We have to go to court even if we are just a week late in paying the rent,” said Palmer. “But the landlord and the superintendent will not repair our apartments for months.”