Bronx Justice News: Mold, Rodents, Lead, and Leaks Among Violations In Neglected Bronx Building: Lawsuit

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By Kevin Deutsch
April 17, 2019

The Legal Aid Society is suing a pair of “neglectful” Bronx landlords on behalf of 14 tenants, alleging the men violated a tenant harassment law and seeking a court order forcing them to make desperately needed repairs, court records show.

The suit, filed in Bronx County Housing Court last week against landlords Alexander Hoffman and Isaac Gutman, alleges their five-story, 33-unit, rent-stabilized building at 2108 Ryer Avenue in Fordham Heights is rife with housing violations and unsafe conditions.

Among them: mold, serious leaks, lead paint violations, and rodent infestations.

“Our complaints fall on deaf ears,” said tenant Jashira Caraballo, who says city workers had to repair lead paint violations in her apartment last year after the landlords failed to fix them. “The management does not recognize the severity of the problems in the building because when anything is done, it is just patchwork. Many of us have small children and they should not have to live in horrible conditions. We are human and should be treated as such.”

Legal Aid lawyers say Hoffman, acting on behalf of Ryer Realty Holdings 2108 LLC, obtained a mortgage to purchase the building for $3.9 million from Kearny Bank, promising to maintain the building in good repair.

Instead, the suit alleges, the building has amassed 115 violations, including allowing unsanitary conditions to persist in tenants’ apartments and common areas.

The city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development has a separate lawsuit pending against the landlords, accusing them of failing to provide sufficient heat and hot water, Legal Aid says.

City records show HPD has cited them for leaks in the building’s hallway ceilings, and also for leaving the public halls in a dirty, unsanitary state, according to Legal Aid.

“I have lived in the building for 37 years and I have never seen the conditions of the building be this bad. The other night I could not sleep because I could hear rodents running in my apartment,” said tenant Hortensia Diaz. “The landlord never properly seals the holes where rodents come from, so I have to deal with this constant problem.”

The accused landlords could not immediately be reached for comment Wednesday.