Tenants left homeless from building fire in Manhattan say landlord refuses to make repairs

INWOOD, Manhattan (WABC) -- A group of tenants in Manhattan are so ticked off at their landlord, they're now suing him.

Their Inwood building was destroyed by a fire three months ago, making the apartments unlivable.

Tenants say the landlord, who has a reputation as one of the city's worst, is refusing to make repairs.

Some of the tenants are forced to stay in homeless shelters and say he wants to force them out.

"There hasn't been anything, anyone out to help us," tenant Lina Baez said. "If there's any kind of help on our end is a list of possible apartments, but they are at market rate, which are ridiculous."

In January, a four-alarm blaze ripped through her six-story apartment building after a faulty electrical wiring accidentally started the fire. There was extensive damage inside.

"They required the landlord to fix their apartment by Jan 21, and that hasn't happened yet," said Lelia James, of Manhattan Legal Services.

James represents 23 tenants who live in the Post Avenue building who have filed a complaint against the owner, demanding the repairs that should have been done two months ago.

"They're so afraid they'll never be able to return, and that this is some type of scheme to get them out of their apartments forever," James said.

The landlord released a statement on the situation.

"We are doing our best to help them," the statement read. "That has been my message since day one. We cannot start the work on the building until all the tenants remove their belongings from their apartment."

Baez says the community needs to be shown some respect.

"These families have gone through a pandemic and now through a fire. If you pick up your phone and ask how can I help you, we wouldn't be having these conversations."

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