Posted by Nancy Bernardi on March 09, 1998 at 20:12:49:
Ten years ago the Bronx building in which I've lived for 19 years
was bought by a man who openly, and repeatedly, ignores and defies
the law, and gets away with it. He owns at least 10 buildings in the
Bronx, listed under several variations on his and his wife's names,
although his office and home are in Queens.
During the past year or so I've become aware of 2 tenant actions
against him for rent overcharges (double the previous tenant's rent!).
In his appeal in one case he made claims for apt. improvements that
were disallowed after investigation and inspection. He had lied
about major work done, and submitted inflated receipts for work done
by his own contracting company.
During the past year, beginning with the 2 apts. beneath mine,
after fire damage to one room, he has had his crew of bunglers
gutting one apt. after another and replacing walls, floors, closets,
ceilings, that were not in need of replacement. He has managed to
get long-term tenants to move out, by refusing to make necessary
repairs; lying to those who don't know their rights, don't speak
English, or may be illegal; and bribing others to move.
If he has obtained permits, which I doubt, they are not displayed.
He told one tenant she had to move, that he had permission to
renovate her apt. She checked it out and learned his request for
work on her apt. had been denied.
He has refused to make any repairs other than emergencies in my
apt. for a number of years, and even then only the cheapest-- for
example: replacement of a washer 6 times in 5 years, when it's
obvious the entire faucet- and the sink- need replacement. Housing
Court judges have allowed him to make empty promises and excvses,
repeatedly. My photos of holes in walls (one reveals brick- created
by overzealous firemen, along with other damage), a hole in the
floor, 2 large holes in the ceiling- with plaster falling, no
painting for 7 years, and many other horrors, are barely glanced
at and ignored.
I've called the Dept. of Buildings- and was told by a worker
that he'd rather not hear what I had to say, explaining that they're
already overworked. A woman--I forget which agency, which complaint
number-- told me the man is entitled to do whatever he chooses
with his property. No one seems to care that he may be violating
regulations, breaking laws. He offered me a bribe to move- in front
of a Housing Court Mediator! One of several...If he bribes tenants
to move, perhaps a neighbor's comment that he "pays off bigtime"
explains the lack of interest.
There must be some way to get someone to pay attention. I'd
appreciate any ideas. It seems to me that his emptying, gutting,
and renovation of apts. ( by vertical 2's and 3's-- as in 2A, 3A,
and 4A), is purposeful, and probably not confined to this building.
I can't help but wonder how many other landlords may be doing the
same thing, in response to the new rent laws...? Nancy Bernardi-Baker
own contracting company
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