Legal Aid Files Lawsuit Against Landlord, City Over 195-Unit Building That Has Been Without Gas Service Since January

The Legal Aid Society filed a lawsuit in Queens Housing Court on behalf of 45 tenants of 83-45 Broadway, Queens 11373 who have been without working gas service since January of this year. The action was brought against Regent Equities LLC, the New York City Department of Buildings (DOB), and the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD).

Background:

Tenants residing at the building first complained of a gas outage in early January 2018. According to the records maintained by the Department of Buildings, the landlord attempted to perform gas work without a valid work permit in January, which led the DOB to issue a Stop Work Order upon inspection. The Stop Work Order was fully rescinded in early February, and since then, the landlord has failed to restore gas services to the 194 families living in the building. Families have been forced to sharply increase their household expenses by purchasing pre-made foods, and they have also been exposed to some neighbors’ unsafe cooking practices, including the in-home use of portable propane burner, which gravely endanger their life, healthy, and safety.

Currently, there are over twenty recorded complaints made to the HPD and six open Class C violations with regard to the discontinuance of gas services. HPD is also conducting housing inspections in the 45 units occupied by tenants represented by The Legal Aid Society in this proceeding, and the building’s total number of violations will be updated shortly. Under the law, landlords have 24 hours to repair Class C violations, including the lack of gas services, which are designated as “immediately hazardous” under the law.

Relief:

The Legal Aid Society, on behalf of the 45 tenants, is seeking an order directing the landlord to correct all conditions constituting violations of the Housing Maintenance Code, including the restoration of gas services. Additionally, based on landlord’s continuous failure to restore an essential service for an extended period of time, The Legal Aid Society is pursuing a harassment claim, seeking an order restraining further acts of harassment and imposing civil penalties, compensatory damages, and punitive damages against the landlord and the management company.

“Landlords have a legal obligation to provide essential services, such as cooking gas, to their tenants. When landlords fail to do this, tenants and their families suffer immensely. We as a City have a duty to help our neighbors who are forced to live under these conditions ,” said Nelson Yeung, Staff Attorney with the Queens Civil Practice of The Legal Aid Society. “The residents of this building have suffered far too long because of the landlord’s negligence and the City’s failure to monitor this situation. Enough is enough; we look forward to resolving our clients’ case in court very soon.”