Two-dozen Bronx tenants reached a court-approved settlement last week, ensuring that their landlord will shape up…or else.
The settlement, negotiated in Bronx Housing Court, calls for OCG VII LLC to complete a laundry list of repairs at 806 E. 175th Street, a five-story apartment building near Crotona Park.
And there’s a timeline. If OCG VII, the landlord, fails to uphold the settlement, the court will appoint an independent administrator to take over.
“I’m tired of watching the building deteriorate,” said Gladys Archer, a 15-year tenant and the building’s tenant association president.
“We’re making a lot of progress,” said Edwin Ramos, who manages the building for OCG VII. “We weren’t aware there were so many problems, because our tenants don’t always call. We’ll finish the repairs in time.”
OCG VII and its attorney did not respond to phone calls for comment.
Eduardo LaGuerre, director of the Bronx-based Neighborhood Association for Intercultural Affairs, and Garrett Wright, an attorney with the Urban Justice Center, a NNYC non-profit, helped Archer organize her fellow tenants to file a group lawsuit against OCG VII this September. OCG VII acquired the building in 2007.
A 2007 Department of Housing Preservation and Development report lists Sinai Sido as the registered owner for three Bronx properties subject to the city’s Alternative Enforcement Program. The program targets New York’s 200 most distressed buildings. HPD also lists Sido as the managing contact for 806 E. 175th Street.
According to the settlement, OCG VII will significantly repair all C-level violations within 30 days, all B-level violations within 90 days and the remainder within 135 days. Additionally, the OCG VII will post a $175,000 bond.
If something goes wrong, an independent administrator will assume responsibility for the building, collect rent and execute repairs. OCG will retain its property on paper alone, until the Bronx Housing Court is satisfied.
At 806 E. 175th Street, extreme circumstances include leaking pipes, collapsed ceilings, broken windows and peeling paint. LaGuerre began attending Archer’s tenant association meetings this summer, and then introduced Wright. By then the building had been cited for over 1,000 violations – 266 level-C violations, classified as immediately hazardous.
“Walls with gaping holes, lead paint in apartments, water leaks cascading,” said Wright. “Two notices from
Con Edison since June regarding the landlord’s unpaid electrical fees.”
“These tenants lodged complaint after complaint,” Wright said. “The landlord just wouldn’t respond.”
As her building decayed, Archer made a decision to stay.
Wright advises frustrated Bronx tenants to contact LaGuerre and the Neighborhood Association for Intercultural Affairs.