Tenants on Cruger Avenue in Pelham Parkway South and on Wallace Avenue in Allerton have enlisted the Neighborhood Initiatives Development Corporation and Councilman James Vacca to pressure landlord Richard Laubsch for repairs.
Laubsch thinks a NIDC staff member has it in for him and blames the fuss on a handful of troublesome tenants. His six-story Cruger Avenue apartment building boasts 437 open Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) violations – 75 egregious “c-class” violations – more than most buildings in the 13th Council District.
Laubsch has resolved most of the violations; he only has yet to file the resolved violations with HPD, the landlord said. 51 of the violations at 2055 Cruger were reported in September or October.
Maria Rivera has been at 2055 Cruger since 1978. She stopped paying rent in April when Laubsch failed to repair water damaged walls in her apartment, Rivera said. Laubsch repaired the holes in September but he and Rivera are in court; her apartment is also infested with mice, the 2055 Cruger tenant leader added.
“The building is neglected,” Rivera said. “The landlord isn’t doing his part.”
Her neighbor, Itara Navarro, is concerned about lead paint. Navarro has a small child. NIDC first visited 2055 Cruger in September. Elizabeth Vega of NIDC found damaged walls and shoddy repairs, Cathy Soto of NIDC said. NIDC mediated between at least one tenant and Laubsch, and then distributed state Division of Housing and Community Renewal (DHCR) complaint forms at the building.
Laubsch blamed the situation on a 2055 Cruger tenant leader determined not to pay rent. She and Vega are friends, the landlord said. Laubsch has no patience for phony complaints, he explained.
“If you slip and fall…and are genuine, I’ll drive you to the hospital myself,” Laubsch said. “If you slip and fall…and aren’t genuine, I’ll stomp on your head.”
Vacca quizzed Laubsch on Wednesday, October 7 and was ready to cut the landlord some slack. Then the councilman fielded a complaint from Fernando Colon at 2714 Wallace Avenue. Colon is disabled; he has requested a paint job and a wheelchair ramp. Laubsch has refused to help because Colon reports HPD violations, the tenant said. There are 174 violations at six-story 2714 Wallace – 14 c-class violations. A chunk of ceiling fell and hurt Colon in August, he added.
“The landlord treats us like garbage,” Colon said.
Vacca wants Laubsch to address the c-class violations at 2055 Cruger and 2714 Wallace. If he fails to do so, Vacca plans to ask HPD to complete the repairs and bill the landlord. NIDC plans to push for DHCR rent reductions at 2055 Cruger.
“The apartment buildings in Pelham Parkway [South] are pre-war,” Vacca said. “But there is no reason for maintenance issues to get out of hand.”
The super at 2055 Cruger has no phone, Rivera said. There are mice and roaches at 2714 Wallace; the super there is incompetent, Colon said. Repairs drag on when Laubsch is unable to access apartments, the landlord said. Rather than file resolved violations with HPD, he has HPD inspect his buildings when repairs are complete. Laubsch admitted that he has been negligent in terms of paperwork. He owns 13 buildings in the Bronx.
©2009 Community News Group