The city has accused a Bronx landlord of creating illegal apartments and allowing his building to become a breeding ground for rats. The building, where three people within a one-block radius of the building contracted rare rat-borne disease leptospirosis, is owned by Ved Parkash, the New York Post reported. One of them has since died.
One of the people who caught the disease, Braulio Balbueman Flories, told the media he lived in one of the illegal basement apartments on Grand Concourse. Officials said the building’s basement had been illegally converted into eight units, which were vacated February 14, 2017. Parkash reportedly sent two exterminators to the building to begin addressing the rat problem.
“When we came here, we saw substantial evidence of rodent infestation,” the city Health Commissioner Mary Travis Bassett.
Last April, 38 tenants at 750 Grand Concourse filed lawsuits against Parkash for failing to remedy a plethora of building code violations.
“Rat infestation has been a problem that’s been going on for years,” said Bianca MacPherson, a paralegal at the Urban Justice Center, which is representing the tenants.
Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz blasted the landlord and the city, saying there have been 1,500 complaints made at the building since 2010, the Post reported. “There’s been a huge improvement that we’ve seen just from walking in the basement — the removal of debris and garbage and the addressing of active rodent infestation,” Diaz said.
Parkash was listed at number 5 in Public Advocate Letitia James’ “worst landlord” list in 2016, with 992 violations from the Department of Housing Preservation and 28 complaints with Department of Buildings, according to a 2016 Crain’s report. Parkash owned 257 rental units in four buildings across the city, the report said.