These tenants have said a welcome goodbye to one of the city’s “Worst Landlords.”
Tenants in three west Bronx buildings are celebrating the purchase of the rental properties once owned by Eli Abbot of College Management, who ranked #1 on Public Advocate Bill de Blasio’s Worst Landlords Watch List.
About 60 families gathered with de Blasio on Thursday, Jan. 24 to celebrate the sale of their buildings to Banana Kelly and Wavecrest Management. The celebration follows a successful organizing campaign by the New Settlement Apartments’ Community Action for Safe Apartments that first began in Aug. 2011.
The tenants at 1259, 1265, and 1269 College Avenue brought a “7A” legal action for an outside administrator against the owner, and along with the city Department of Housing Preservation and Development, saw the sale of the buildings to the new landlords who will likely take better care of the buildings.
Susan Blankley, director of housing organizing at CASA – New Settlement, who helped organize the building, called the outcome “amazing.”
“They got rid of a horrible landlord, but so many times you can do a great organizing job, get rid of a horrible landlord and then have no say about who comes in.”
She said the new landlords are reputable and have agreed to make necessary repairs to problems as broad as those described by tenant Angel Caballero: recurring leaks, mold, rodent infestations, general lack of cleanliness, and in the winter, oftentimes lack of heat and hot water.
“These families showed that tenant organizing and public pressure can hold bad landlords accountable when they flout the law,” said de Blasio. “We’re proud of what they’ve accomplished, and we won’t stop fighting until every Watch List building is turned around.”
HPD worked with Banana Kelly and Wavecrest as they negotiated with the owner and with New York Community Bank, the debt holder. HPD provided low-interest loans for rehabilitation through its Preservation Loan Program.
Caballero, who has lived in the building for 53 years and now resides there with his elderly mother, said that the management had told him that since he lives in a rent controlled apartment, he would be last on the list for any repairs.
He said he had to replace windows, kitchen cabinets and fixtures, and plaster from part of his apartment’s ceiling at his own expense. He is looking forward to seeing long-standing issues with the building resolved.
“It’s been a long, hard fight with this landlord,” said Dominga Sanchez, a tenant leader of College Avenue Tenants United. “He just wanted to come collect rent, without provided basic services. We’ve been suffering with lack of heat, hot water, chronic leaks—you name it! I am so excited that he is no longer our landlord! We are so hopeful that the new landlords will be different.”
Patrick Rocchio can be reach via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (718) 742-3393