NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A battle between some Queens tenants and their landlord is heating up as the temperature drops.
Renters say they’ve been without heat for months, CBS2’s Dave Carlin reported Tuesday.
It’s homework in hoodies for remote learning students Anika and Mohammed inside their family’s cold apartment on Astoria‘s 27th Street.
“They are getting sick and we have elderly people in the building, also,” father Mohammed Islan said.
The children’s father showed Carlin damaged ceiling and walls and plumbing problems. He said the lack of action from the landlord prompted him and neighbors to repeatedly call 311, resulting in dozens of violations.
Tenants gathered on the chilly front steps of the building, where Sateesh Nori, the attorney-in-charge of the Legal Aid Society, announced in court is where they are going to get relief.
“The tenants of this building are essential workers,” Nori said. “These are all rent-paying tenants.”
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There was no answer when Carlin knocked at the door of the building superintendent, and there was no answer at the Ozone Park home of the landlord, Patricia Martin, who CBS2 later contacted on the phone.
She said she fixed the boiler after more than a month of no heat, stretching from late September to early November, and she said some tenants’ complaints she was never made aware of, including an apparent problem with roaches and mice.
Martin told CBS she will do her best to address the problems.
But that won’t stop legal action. The tenants said taking this to court a drawn-out process, complicated by the coronavirus pandemic.
“Housing Court is sometimes just so slow at giving justice,” said Rohit Chandan of the Astoria Tenants Union.
Chandan said delays can extend many months. That’s why he’s recommending tenants who need help band together.
“When you team up with other tenants and work together, that’s when you get repairs done and get a safe and stable home,” Chandan said.
“Yes, we are going to take action in the courts. Yes, we’re going to press conferences. Yes, we’re going to organize with Astoria Tenants Union. But this is a patchwork solution. What we need is a legislative action,” Assembly member Zohran Mamdani said.
Mamdani said in Albany he will push to strengthen law, keeping tenants in place and fixing up the space.