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Unsafe vestibule conditions

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Unsafe vestibule conditions

Postby ashm1195 » Tue Mar 02, 2021 11:00 pm

I recently moved to a new building about a month ago and I am having a lot of problems with homeless people camping out in the vestibule of the front door. There are two doors to get into the building, the second one has a lock but the first does not and people have been congregating there.

These are not just people who are cold and looking for somewhere warm to sleep. I have seen them using drugs, urinating inside, leaving behind syringes, and I even witnessed one of them trying to get into the building. On multiple occasions I have been trapped inside the building because people are passed out straight in front of the door. I’ve addressed this with management who doesn’t seem to want to do anything about it. He blames the “area” but I’ve been living locally in another building for 3 1/2 years and never had a single issue. Within the month I’ve been here I’ve had at least 4 serious incidents.

He tells me to call the cops whenever it happens but they only move the people outside and they end up coming back in. I spoke to an officer to said a lock needs to be placed on the front door (I agree) but management doesn’t seem to be interested in this. Also, the buzzer/intercom for the building doesn’t work which adds additional safety concerns about the front door.

I feel very unsafe and worry about leaving my apartment. Especially since I often leave for work in the morning when it’s still dark. I don’t know what I can do about this, if anything. I’m looking for some advice on what can be done.
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Re: Unsafe vestibule conditions

Postby TenantNet » Wed Mar 03, 2021 12:06 am

Is the building new (recently constructed) or just new to you?

You say that one entrance does not have a lock. Can people get to the inside of the building itself, or is it just the outside vestibule door? Have other tenants also complained? Do you have a tenants association in the building?

I understand what you are saying, but be careful as there are many people these days who want to criminalize the homeless, like with the Lucerne Hotel on the Upper West Side. Many homeless are just trying to survive a very cold winter.

There are also different types of homeless. The ones living in shelters do not sound like those who you describe. Either way, homeless are vulnerable. Some reactions have been defensive, and others have been welcoming and compassionate.

A lot has changed since COVID came along.

The police will do little, partially in reaction to the George Floyd backlash, but partially because the police are often just too lazy. I could tell you horrors about the NYPD where I live.

NYC law requires that outside doors be locked. See https://rulesofnyc.readthedocs.io/en/latest/c14/

and search for Title 28 and scroll to Section 25-151
or look for "Subchapter M: Entrance Doors, Locks and Intercommunication Systems"

The buzzer/intercom also must work. I would call 311 ASAP and make a complaint. Get it on record. Take photos and document all communication to and from the LL. If need be you can file a HP Action in Housing Court to compel the owner to maintain the doors and intercom.

You could also contact the LL first by certified mail and explain the problem and required solution. Some LLs will work with you, but many will continue to ignore you.
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Re: Unsafe vestibule conditions

Postby ashm1195 » Wed Mar 03, 2021 12:37 pm

The building is not new, just new to me.

The first door,which is unlocked, enters to the vestibule, which is small (only about 6x5 with 2 steps in it). The second door has to be opened to get into the building. However, there are clear visible markings on the door of attempted forced entry. I've sent photos of this to the management. I really believe that someone could easily get into this door if they try to.

My understanding is that multiple units in the building are not full (there are 20 units total). I have been there for only a month now and I hear people moving around sometimes but never really see anyone while I'm coming/going. So I really don't know where anyone lives, if they've complained, or if there's a tenants association. I would like to speak to other tenants about the issues but I'm not sure of any way to do this besides walking around and knocking on each door, which can be risky in itself.

The people who are spending time in this building are definitely not the people from the shelters who are having a rough time and just looking for a warm place to sleep. They are often (if not always) high on drugs and can be confrontational. On one occasion the police removed a group of 3 people from the vestibule. They then stood outside and harassed me as I walking by because I "didn't have to make them leave". I've also been late to work twice now because I have been physically trapped in the building while waiting for police/EMS to come remove people from blocking the door.

The manager claims that the buzzers will be fixed by this week but I dont believe him. I was planning to give him the benefit of the doubt and wait until Friday before submitting a complaint to 311. Also, the owner of the building does not live locally so all of my communication has been through email with the building manager. I am not sure who else I can contact besides the one guy from the management company whose contact information I have.
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Re: Unsafe vestibule conditions

Postby TenantNet » Wed Mar 03, 2021 1:51 pm

As you're not RS, be careful you don't piss them off too much or they might not renew your lease. OTOH, don't do nothing. Tenants see each other in the hall and start talking. Just a few can be the genesis for a tenant association. LLs freak out about tenants organizing, but you can do it without being too confrontational. Friday is only two days away, so see what happens. Let us know of progress, or lack thereof.
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Re: Unsafe vestibule conditions

Postby ashm1195 » Mon Apr 05, 2021 11:42 am

Fast forward a month later and the buzzer has not been fixed (even after a report to 311) and the safety issues in the building have gotten worse. Last night I was trapped outside the building as I witnessed two people enter the vestibule and smoke some type of drug from a glass pipe. I called the police and circled around the block a few times. By the fifth time the coast was clear but one of the other tenants was in the hallway and informed me that the same couple were just performing oral acts on each other a few minutes earlier. Over the past couple of weeks we have found used condoms, tampons, drug paraphernalia, etc in the hallway pretty much everyday. Management makes empty promises to add a lock or other security measures but it never happens.
In addition, I have a broken window that wont open/close and theres a large gap at the top letting cold air in. Someone was supposed to come fix it last Thursday and I sat home all day waiting but no one ever showed up. I am truly sick of this building and feel very unsafe. I am considering breaking my lease but I am not sure if I have a leg to stand on. There is a section of my lease that states "owner agrees that the apartment and the bui8lding are fit for human habitation and that there will be no conditions which will be detrimental to life, health, or safety". Is this a strong enough defense to get out of my lease? I have had to called the police at least 4 times now and it has only been 2 months. After speaking to the police for an extended time last month, their advice to me was to find a new place to live. I feel trapped and would appreciate any advice. thanks.
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Re: Unsafe vestibule conditions

Postby TenantNet » Mon Apr 05, 2021 12:06 pm

Consider filing a HP Action for any items that are broken. If police do nothing (and that's no surprise), I would start making a fuss at the local community board, the Police Precinct Council (where you can unload on the police) and start nagging your electeds.

For those police who advise you to move, I would demand they do their job, and even report them to their superiors for putting the onus on you. Don't let them pull that shit.

On moving, the section you cite ... that's meaningless and boilerplate language. There is no legal impediment that might prevent you from moving. If the LL seeks the rent for the remainder of the term, then you can show you well-documented efforts and bad conditions. And of course, LLs must mitigate their losses to make any claim for lost rent.
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