A Bronx landlord has neglected the tenants of a building, allowing frequent heat and hot water outages and failing to make proper repairs for years, a group of tenants said.
Eight residents of 1054-1058 Southern Blvd. in Foxhurst sued their landlord, Southern 634 LLC, and management company, Midas Property, Thursday, claiming that their property is deliberately neglected in an effort to force them out.
“They want to get (rent-controlled tenants) out so they can raise the rent,” said Lisa Ortega, 49, who has lived in the building for 23 years and has a rent-stabilized apartment. Newer tenants aren’t welcome to stay very long, either, as management wants to “get the market rate,” she claimed.
In the past two months, residents in the 55-unit building reported having no heat or hot water on at least 15 days, according to Department of Housing Preservation and Development records.
“It’s been really, really cold, and we don’t have heat,” said Janet Saleh, 41, who has lived in the building for about 12 years with her husband and three sons, ages 5, 6 and 16. “We have to have coats on.”
The tenants also claim there are frequent elevator outages that have caused some elderly tenants and residents with disabilities to be “homebound,” according to the lawsuit, filed by the Legal Aid Society on behalf of the tenants.
Residents allege the building’s problems include rat and roach infestations, water leaks, broken appliances, broken stairs, a front entrance that doesn’t lock, unfinished ceilings and exposed electric wiring in common areas. There are 128 open violations on the building, HPD records show.
“We don’t have a secure, comfortable environment,” Saleh said. “Nobody should live there.”
The issues with the building have been going on for decades, Ortega said, even under prior owners. And when residents report problems, the management company threatens to evict them, she claimed.
Failing to address repairs is a tactic landlords have used across the city to push out residents, Legal Aid attorney Jessica Bellinder said.
“It’s really rampant. It’s a broad problem,” she said. “Landlords are allowing their buildings to be in poor condition to encourage tenants with low rents to move on.”
The issues reported at 1054-1058 Southern Blvd. are "unacceptable," said Ryan Monell, a spokesman for Bronx Councilman Rafael Salamanca, Jr., whose district includes the building. Salamanca's office has requested HPD do a walkthrough of the building to identify and address the problems, Monell said.
Midas Property Management Corporation and Southern 634 LLC did not immediately respond to requests for comment.