139th St. residents protest landlord, management

(l-r) Tenant association members Blonnie Rodgers, Shaquan Clarke, Juan and Roy Cano at this week’s press conference.
Photo courtesy of the South Bronx Tenants Association

Tenants at a south Bronx apartment building say they can no longer tolerate their harsh living conditions.

On Monday, May 8, residents of 386 E. 139th Street, accompanied by the South Bronx Tenants Movement, held a press conference to publicize their terrible living situation.

Since February, the building’s tenants have faced deplorable living conditions, including water leaks, mold, collapsed ceilings as well as rodents and roach infestation throughout the building.

The 5-story brick walkup is also suffering from inadequate appliances, lack of an intercom system, broken stairs, broken mailboxes and a broken front door with a damaged lock, which poses a safety hazard for tenants, the tenant leaders charge.

The low-income residents, who have endured long stretches without proper heat and hot water, mostly during the winter and spring months, have also complained about the absence of the building’s superintendent and repeated harassment by the landlord and CYA Management, LLC, the building’s management company.

One resident in the 18-unit building located between Willis and Alexander avenues, said he was forced to deal with a broken ceiling and a leak for three weeks. According to another resident, the hole in the ceiling has been patched up but still not completely repaired.

“They (the management company) tried to buy some of us (the tenants) out by giving us back our deposit and two months rent – which is basically nothing,” said Juan Cano, who has been a resident in the building for nearly 20 years, and said that the landlord allegedly has tried to buy out the rent-stabilized tenants. “Instead of trying to buy us out, he could have used that money for more important matters, such as much needed repairs.”

In February, over 50 NYC Housing Preservation & Development violations were open on the property.

As a result, residents formed a tenants association the same month to collectively take action against CYA Management, LLC, after attempting to establish communication with the landlord for over a month. Their repeated requests for repairs to improve the living conditions in the building where ignored by management.

Since forming a tenants association three months ago, along with assistance from the South Bronx Tenants Movement, the number of building violations has nearly doubled.

Trespassing has also been an issue in the building.

“Aside from no heat and hot water during the winter, I don’t feel safe here – primarily because of the front door, which doesn’t have a lock, and the stairs, which are damaged and uneven,” said Roy Cano, Juan’s brother and head of the building’s tenant association. “There are homeless people who live on the roof and do drugs up there. Building management is aware of this and they’re not doing anything about it.”

Following the press conference, tenants opened their doors to those in attendance to show their current living conditions. They also mailed out their letter to CYA Management that contained the tenant’s complaint forms.

According to residents, the building’s management office does not pick up calls or return phone calls, even when voice messages are left by tenants.

There is a bit of confusion in regards to who is the actual landlord of the building, as the tenant leases have been signed by someone they believe is not the landlord. According to HPD, the landlord of the building is Ismael Ayala, while mortgage documents show that Saul Piller is the landlord.

CYA Management, also known as Willis Apartment LLC, could not be reached for comment.

Holes in the wall and ceiling of an apartment unit inside 386 E. 139th Street.
Photo courtesy of the South Bronx Tenants Association

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