NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Imagine having your electricity go off every 15 minutes during this intense heat wave. That’s what a group of tenants in Sunset Park, Brooklyn say is happening to them.
They are withholding rent to force their landlord to fix that and other unsafe conditions, CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer reported.
Spent fuses littered the basement floor and believe it or not the superintendent was using a fan in an attempt to keep the system from overheating. They were pictures that demonstrate the misery endured by tenants living in a three-building complex on 46th Street in Sunset Park.
“I’m scared because we could get on fire any minute here,” Sara Lopez said.
The super is still doing it, even though tenants called the FDNY to show it the problem.
“Two weeks ago we had to run out the building because the building was almost caught on fire so we called the fireman department,” Lopez said. “And when he saw that he shut off the whole light off for three buildings. We were without lights in the heat wave for 12 hours.”
The tenants complain about many things – including wiring that’s a fire hazard, garbage and vermin — but the frequency of power outages, living without power in the dead of winter or the heat of summer makes them furious.
“On average about 30 times a day,” tenant Jerry Betance said when asked how often he loses power. “Yes, every 15 minutes the power goes off.”
Superintendent Israel Espinosa tried to sneak out of the building when Kramer and CBS 2 cameras showed up, but she caught up with him.
Kramer: “On what planet do you think it’s legal to put a fan on a fuse box?’
Espinosa: “I don’t know. I don’t know. Sorry.”
The tenants are on a rent strike against the landlord, Orazio Petito, a man CBS 2 discovered is on Public Advocate Bill de Blasio’s list of worst landlords for violations at other properties he owns. On Friday, de Blasio vowed to hold the landlord accountable.
“No tenant deserves a landlord like Mr. Petito,” de Blasio said in a statement. “Buildings like these don’t fall apart overnight.'”
The tenants said they’re going to save up their withhold rent money and make the repairs themselves if they have to.
Calls to the landlord were not returned. CBS 2 went to the address where tenants pay their rent. It turned out to be a post office box in a check-cashing place.
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