Tag Archive | "Buildings"

Heat season begins for apartments, NY1 News

"Heat season" has begun in New York City, the period in which the city requires building owners to provide heat and hot water to tenants, reports NY1 News. The season typically begins on Oct. 1. Tenants should notify their building owner if heat is not being adequately supplied to the building. "Heat Season" concludes May 31.

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Bronx Residents Protest Poor Living Conditions

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Tenants Complain of ‘House of Horrors’

by Sarah Wali

LaDonna Clements the white tile pictured above were a preventive measure against mold on her bathroom ceiling, but realized her mistake when it too was covered.  LaDonna Clements waited impatiently at the foot of the stairs at 689 E. 187th St. in the Bronx one afternoon in October. She and her son, Rondell, were moving some of their belongings to another, safer apartment in Harlem.  A loud crash sent her running. On the third floor landing she saw her son’s left leg dangling from the landing above her.  He had fallen through, spraining his back and neck, and twisting his ankle. “We knew eventually the staircase was gonna cave in,” said Clements, a 32-year-old nursing aide.   “We knew, we had a feeling because it would shake.” Tenants had filed complaints about conditions in this building regularly, according to the New York City Department of Housing and Development. In the past year, it received 31 citations. Although inspectors from the city’s Building Department deemed it safe, the owner, Solieman Rabanipour, was cited for failure to maintain the property. Rabanipour adamantly denies tenants’ claims of disrepair in the apartment.  He blames Clements and her son for the damage on the landing. “She’s lying,” said Rabanipour, when asked about Clements’ claims that the stairs were dangerous.  “They were moving furniture, they dropped a piece and the steps broke.” Rabanipour pointed out that there are no open violations against the building.   He fixed the issues raised in the citations. However, the dilapidated conditions are hard to miss. A wooden block replaces the broken landing between the shaky structure’s third and fourth floors.  Out of the six units, five are currently occupied.  Tenants complain of vermin, falling ceilings and lack of hot water. Yet, Clements, at least at first, felt blessed for the opportunity to move into this real home.  She, like many of her new neighbors, had been living in homeless shelters with her son for months.  She craved stability.  But living without reliable hot water, heat and electricity killed her spirit. She said her living room windowpane came off shortly after she arrived.  Then mold and mildew piled up until it caked the bathroom ceiling and Rondell ’s bedroom.  If a fuse blew at night, they would have to wait until morning for the restaurant downstairs to open and give them access to the fuse box. Clements says she tried calling Rabanipour, a Manhattan dentist with a home on Long Island, but got no response.    After over a dozen attempts to file a complaint with the city through 311, an inspector came to check on her apartment in this February. “They had to close down my living room because they said it was poisonous,” she said. According to the Department Housing and Development, inspectors found high levels of asbestos and lead poisoning from the paint in the room.    To pass inspection the room had to be gutted and redone.   It was only then, she said, that Rabanipour sent someone to fix the mold problem in the bathroom. At first she thought the newly installed white plastic on the ceiling was to prevent the problem from occurring once more.   She quickly realized it had only been covered up when it too was spotted with the dark green. In May, Clements said inspectors advised her to stop paying rent, and to move out of the apartment.  She and Rondell took what they could, and relocated to a housing project in Manhattan. Rabanipour claims he didn’t know the apartment had been vacant for four months. “If I knew they had left, why wouldn’t I rent the apartment out to someone else?” he said. Yessina Rodriguez, 25, who lives in the apartment directly below LaDonna’s, said she has attempted to call the landlord about the damage in her apartment since she moved in a year ago.  The first time she saw anything being fixed was after Rondell fell through the stairs. “We don’t have a super at all,” she said.  “We have a guy from the restaurant downstairs who comes and cleans once a month, that’s it.” Rodriquez doesn’t allow her 3 and 8-year-olds to leave the apartment because she feels the hallway is dangerous.  With no buzzer on the door, the narrow dark stairwell is an ideal spot for strangers to loiter.  By morning, she said, the hallway reeks of urine because two of the three windows are jammed shut. She hasn’t received mail for the year she’s been in her apartment because her mailbox door is broken.  There is no superintendent to fix it, so she’s stuck paying her bills online and finding and trying to keep up with her due dates.  When she tried to call Rabanipour, she couldn’t reach him, and he has yet to return her calls. Rabanipour claimed Rodriquez  never called him about her complaints.   He blamed the tenants for breaking the buzzer, and not locking the front door. “I’m there once a week,” he said. “I have a super there.  I don’t understand what they want.  I can’t be there 24-hours a day.” Rodriquez decided to take things in her own hands when she found mice in her pantry.   The rodents were eating through her food supply, and she could not afford to let food go to waste. No matter how high she put her food, the mice would come to get it.   She bought a small mixed breed puppy to scare them off, even though it’s a pet-free building. “I don’t care,” she said.  “I’m afraid of putting my hand on the kitchen wall in the dark because I don’t know what will crawl on it.” According to the Department of Housing Preservation and Development Rodriquez has called 311 more than 50 times to file complaints, since her attempts to contact the landlord were futile. Now, fresh patches of paint spot the wall.  Tenants say the building is the cleanest it has ever been.   The dirt-stained floor has been swept and the putrid smell is slightly masked by fresh paint.    But they still worry about the shaking staircase. To Rabanipour, this is just part of owning a building, and there is nothing wrong with 689 E. 187th St. “It’s in perfectly livable shape,” he said. Rodriquez may disagree, but without steady work she has no other option.  She will continue to endure its conditions for the next two years, until her lease runs out.

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