Tenants of Bronx apartment building file lawsuit, speak out about hazardous living conditions

Janice Yu Image
Tuesday, March 5, 2024
Tenants of Bronx apartment building file lawsuit over living conditions
Janice Yu is live in University Heights with more on the lawsuit.

UNIVERSITY HEIGHTS, The Bronx (WABC) -- Tenants at an apartment building in the Bronx are saying enough is enough, claiming their landlord has ignored and failed to fix safety issues for years.

The Legal Aid Society filed a lawsuit on Tuesday on behalf of 25 people who live in the building located on Davidson Avenue.

Tenants say the hazardous conditions, including mold, leaks, vermin infestations and water leaks, have continued for more than a decade, and that the only elevator in the building has been out of service since August of 2023.

Many of them say they've had no choice but to pay for repairs themselves or find a way to just live with the conditions.

One tenant named Niko shares a sixth floor apartment with his friend and says his place has been riddled with issues, including a hole in the ceiling of the bathroom and paint and parts of the wall coming off.

"I started seeing blooms of mold in a way, so I did a lot to try and clean up the apartment," he said. "In the meantime, I had to get in a shelter because of the different health conditions I have that were flaring up."

Niko has even started filling the apartment with plants to catch some of the falling water in the living room.

In the lawsuit, tenants are asking for immediate repairs. They're also asking the city to remove ownership from the building's current owners, including Romad Realty Inc., David Kornitzer and Dov Guttman.

"They have completely dodged paying property taxes to the city of New York to the point where the city is now owed a debt of $24 million on this building," said Russell Crane, an attorney for the Legal aid Society.

There are nearly 500 open violations from New York City's Department of Housing Preservation and Development and more than 80 open violations with the Department of Buildings.

The owners are said to owe more than $300,000 in penalties.

Councilwoman Pierina Sanchez says the tenants were unsuccessful in trying to turn the building over to a nonprofit through the city's now suspended third party transfer program.

In 2015, the city was ready to start foreclosing on the building, but the owners froze the proceedings by filing for bankruptcy.

"Every single program that the city of New York has, has been used in this building and look how they are living," Sanchez said. "To see a 1-year-old and a 2-year-old walking by with a wall of black mold, with a hole in the ceiling -- that ain't right."

Eyewitness News reached out to the owners of the building, but have not heard back.

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