The Legal Aid Society filed a lawsuit today in Bronx Housing Court on behalf of 25 tenants of 351-359 East 163rd Street and 361-371 East 163rd Street, Bronx, NY 10451, who have endured dangerous living conditions for years, as the building’s management has refused to make necessary repairs in both individual apartments and common areas.
Since a fire that occurred in February 2019, several vacate orders on the premises have left families homeless and obstructed their access to employment, education, and critical services. In light of the lengthy amount of time it has taken complete repairs, the landlord has been requesting that these rent stabilized tenants, who have the right to return to their affordable, rent stabilized homes, vacate their apartments.
The lawsuit also names the City, as the Department of Buildings (DOB) and Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) have both failed to ensure that management expeditiously addresses the open violations that have overwhelmed the building for months.
Tenants allege that management has engaged in harassment for repeatedly failing to make repairs for many months, and in some apartments, for years at a time, as well as refusing to make repairs in a timely fashion after the fire; leaving industrial garbage and debris in common areas; cutting off tenants’ access to cable/phone lines; leaving construction materials and appliances in the hallways; allowing lead dust to gather in the air; failing to treat roach and rodent infestations; failing to fix chronic leaks and mold; and other living conditions.
“No New Yorker should have to put up with deplorable living conditions or endure homelessness because of landlord neglect,” said Zoe Kheyman, the attorney representing the tenants as part of the Housing Group Advocacy Project at The Legal Aid Society. “These families deserve to be back in their homes and deserve apartments that are safe, clean, and violation free.”
Zoe Kheyman noted that this is not the first time that this landlord has failed to repair dangerous living conditions after a serious fire. The Legal Aid Society represented dozens of Bronx tenants at 1920 Walton Avenue, against the same landlord, after a five-alarm fire in September 2017 left some tenants homeless for over a year.
The lawsuit petitions the court to direct building management to immediately address all current violations and any new violations that arise during the pendency of the lawsuit; grant tenants immediate access to apartments not covered by any vacate order; find that the landlord engaged in a pattern of tenant harassment; and such other and further relief as the Court may deem just and proper.
About The Legal Aid Society
The Legal Aid Society exists for one simple yet powerful reason: to ensure that New Yorkers are not denied their right to equal justice because of poverty. For over 140 years, we have protected, defended, and advocated for those who have struggled in silence for far too long. Every day, in every borough, The Legal Aid Society changes the lives of our clients and helps improve our communities.
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