One landlord in the Bronx is allegedly attempting to freeze a family out of their $1,600-a-month Baychester duplex apartment. A 51-year-old cancer survivor who also suffered two hip fractures and multiple strokes shares the dwelling with her boyfriend, 58, and son, 24, who has asthma.
They believe the landlord refuses to make repairs that would allow the family access to hot water, gas and heat because he intends to renovate the Wickham Ave. property to lure higher-paying tenants.
For seven long, cold weeks, the family has been forced to sleep under mounds of blankets, fully dressed in layers of woolen outerwear and hats. They bathe at the homes of family members living in other New York City boroughs and have to rely on meals with relatives or in restaurants.
The family’s troubles began back in early December when their Con Ed power got disconnected after they were late paying their utility bill. A week later, they were able to get current on their account, but utility workers determined that the new meter couldn’t be installed without specific renovations being done.
While they have repeatedly asked the landlord, a psychiatrist, to make the repairs, nothing has been done. The woman then filed a complaint in the NYC housing court.
“This is evil. How can you leave someone in the cold for almost two months?” she said, shivering. “How can you subject someone to these living conditions?”
The landlord, in a statement to the Daily News, said that he had made numerous attempts to locate a contractor to fix the broken pipeline.
“I can’t just go and buy this piece of equipment and replace it,” he said. “I feel so bad. I have compassion. I take care of people for a living. This is not negligence.”
The Department of Housing Preservation and Development has ordered a contractor to make the repairs to the apartment’s gas line. Due to a leaking boiler, the repairs will be extensive.
Tenants have rights, which include that utility services be available to them in their apartments. Landlords who fail to provide access could face premises liability claims for any damages.
Source: New York Daily News, “Ailing Bronx woman says landlord refusing to fix heat, gas to force her family out,” Edgar Sandoval, Rocco Parasca and Rich Shapiro, Jan. 30, 2018