Bushwick

Bushwick tenants take landlord to court, alleging hazardous mold

August 1, 2019 Kelly Mena

Rodents, water leaks, mold and ongoing electrical issues are just some of the conditions caused by a Bushwick landlord’s negligence, according to papers tenants filed in Brooklyn Housing Court as part of a request for a court-appointed building administrator.

Three tenants living at 149 Irving Ave., aided by TakeRoot Justice, filed the papers on Wednesday against their landlord, INK 1549 Dekalb LLC, accusing them of purposely allowing their building to fall into disrepair. 

The residents claim that the problems began more than two years ago, when the building first switched ownership.

The building has six units, three of which have been unoccupied and are allegedly the cause of the building’s current state — all are padlocked and allegedly suffering from serious infrastructure issues. 

Tenants display the alleged mold inside the padlocked apartments at 149 Irving Ave. in Bushwick. Eagle photo by Kelly Mena

“Today we have filed paperwork in court … because the landlord has failed in its duty to take care of this building. There are three empty units that are padlocked and we are terrified about what’s behind all those doors. We have seen behind one door and the conditions are terrible — there is mold. We are very concerned that the tenants’ health and safety is being endangered by this level of mold,” said Linden Miller, staff attorney at TakeRoot Justice, at the rally. 

The filing requests that the court appoint an administrator as part of the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development’s 7A Management Program within the Housing Quality Enforcement Program. Targeting extremely distressed or at-risk privately-owned residential buildings, court-appointed administrators take over rent collection responsibilities and use the revenue to make repairs and provide services.

The tenants are hoping the case will move quickly and are expected back in housing court on Aug. 19. Prior to the filing, INK Property Group met with tenants in June and promised regular inspections and upkeep of the building — but the tenants haven’t see any changes, Miller told the Eagle

“I have been having vision issues for the last couple of months in both eyes, and I think it’s from the mold in the apartments. I just started developing these issues and my doctor is worried,” said Anna Rosa, a tenant of more than 40 years

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A July 17 tenant safety inspection resulted in three building code violations, according to city records. The building also had 27 open administrative violations prior to INK’s ownership.

INK Property Development made it on to a list by Stabilizing NYC, a housing advocacy group, of “Worst Landlords” for it’s neglect and harassment tactics against rent-stabilized tenants, according to Curbed.  Wednesday’s protest included members from sister properties that together have formed the INK Tenant Coalition in a bid to fight back against the real estate company’s displacement tactics. The company has about 43 buildings in its portfolio with the majority located in Brooklyn, according to the nonprofit Fix NYC, which monitors the city’s landlords for bad actors. 

“They know the conditions of the apartments but they are denying the conditions and nothing is being done. I mean, we can smell the mildew in the hallway, I’m sure the quality of air is not appropriate for today’s standards,” said Benne Santiago, a resident of the building since the late 1970s.

INK Property Development did not return a phone call requesting comment.

Correction (4:15 p.m.): A previous version of this story said that the building had three environmental violations and 27 building code violations. It actually had three building code violations and 27 administrative violations. The story has been updated. The Eagle regrets the error. 

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