May 31, 2019
A Brownsville landlord is demanding higher rents and security deposits in a building long in need of repairs — repairs he refuses to complete, his tenants claim. The residents say that cockroaches roam along the building’s mold-covered walls, windows are broken, heat is lacking — and it all smells strongly of mildew.
Now, the lawyers of two tenants are calling on the Brooklyn district attorney to investigate the landlord and the owner of the building.
Sisters Maria Soto and Irene Maldonado live with their children, who are disabled, in a three-bedroom apartment on Eastern Parkway managed by William Ferrerosa and owned by Lorenzo Martin. Soto and Maldonado say their landlords’ lack of upkeep threatens their safety in the apartment.
“He needs to come and fix this place, because it’s not fair that me and my kids have to live in these deplorable conditions when he has always received his rent. All we are asking is for a healthy living environment,” Maldonado told the Brooklyn Eagle.
The Legal Aid Society – which represents the tenants – called on DA Eric Gonzalez to investigate the three-story, three-unit apartment building to see whether or not the landlords are committing crimes against tenants. Ferrerosa was fined in 2013 by the New York City Commission on Human Rights for discriminating against low-income tenants, according to PIX 11.
“The apartments were cold because the tenants have never received heat and dark because there is no overhead lighting in any of the bedrooms. One of the tenants reported having to empty out her child’s clothes drawers after finding droppings of rat feces inside them,” Soto’s and Maldonado’s lawyers wrote to Gonzalez in a May 22 letter.
The building currently has 299 open violations, including two for a toilet that is not properly connected to the ground, nine for mold throughout the building, as well as numerous violations for mice, rat and cockroach infestations dating as far back as 2003, according to Department of Housing Preservation and Development data.
Soto and Maldonado are not financially stable enough to move and look for other housing, their lawyers argue.
“In any case, proposing the relocation of Maria and Irene distracts us from the real, recurring crisis facing your constituents on a daily basis that we raise in this letter: total impunity for slumlords who, once they get rid of one tenant, can wage their tactics against the next one,” their lawyers’ letter stated.
“We received the letter and will review this matter,” a spokesperson for the Brooklyn DA told the Eagle.
Ferrerosa did not immediately respond to request for comment.