The city’s ‘number one worst landlord’ has finally met with his tenants.
On Tuesday, July 12, the Parkash Tenant Coalition, NYC Public Advocate representatives, Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition, New Settlement Apartments’ Community Action for Safe Apartments and the Urban Justice Center’s Community Development Project met with Ved Parkash at Concourse House at 2751 Grand Concourse to address their demands and concerns.
According to a NWBCCC tenant organizer, over 120 tenants from 15 different Parkash-owned buildings were in attendance.
Michael Leonard, Urban Justice staff attorney, attended the meeting and drafted a ‘Memorandum of Understanding’ document containing the tenants’ demands which Parkash publicly agreed upon.
These demands include creating a ‘repair request sheet’ in both English and Spanish to be approved by the coalition, to honor all repair requests, to have the super of each building visit each apartment and distribute repair request forms to tenants who have not completed or received one within one month and to install complaint boxes in every buildings’ lobby ensuring tenants can make repair requests directly to the super.
Repairs to the underlying conditions such as leaking pipes or mold sources, to give 72-hour notice to tenants for non-emergency repairs unless a court order requests otherwise, to call Parkash’s cellphone to report conditions in need of repairs, to provide a written notice in English and Spanish to tenants if the super visits the apartment when no one is home, to fix any front entrance doors needing repairs, to install new security cameras and new lighting in all of the buildings within one year were also included in the agreement.
The coalition will provide Parkash with a list of buildings with unkept common areas and will post information about tenants’ rights in every lobby in addition to a notice for the right to call 311.
Parkash agreed to immediately respond to elevator complaints and to ensure they function at all times.
The landlord is to direct the porter or super from each building to clean the elevator before 7 a.m. and use the elevator to transport garbage or construction materials only before 7 a.m.
Parkash agreed that holdover evictions cannot be initiated without the tenant being notified by certified mail. He also agreed to waive late fees when the rent is paid anytime within the month it is due, agreed to provide tenants with accurate pass due rent breakdowns and to cease charging fees as rent arrears, agreed to ensure accurate records rather than resort to court over rent when tenants do not owe anything and to have a representative meet with the coalition to ensure tenants’ needs are being properly addressed.
The organizer noted Parkash was ‘very general’ in some of his responses. He said all of his buildings would have security cameras installed, but did not specify as to when or which buildings will receive the improvements.
The NWBCCC tenant organizer said the coalition plans to host follow-up meetings to update progress at Parkash’s properties.
On Friday, July 8, a few days before the meeting with Parkash, Senator Gustavo Rivera and NWBCCC members met tenants outside 2454 Tiebout Avenue to protest the building’s poor living conditions and file a lawsuit against the landlord.
Rajiv Jaswa, Urban Justice Center staff attorney, said as of Monday, July 18, there are 271 open housing code violations at 2454 Tiebout Avenue alone, with 174 Class B hazardous violations and 18 Class C immediately hazardous violations.
They include lack of heat and hot water, a non-working elevator, unkempt building, inadequate lighting, leaks and rodent and cockroach infestations.
Tenants complained about the landlord’s ‘patchwork’ repairs, in which a fresh paint job is used to hide leaks, mold and mildew.
“We struggle to pay our rent to live in a decent and comfortable apartment,” Rafaela Martinez, a 2454 Tiebout Avenue resident. “It makes me depressed to see my building and apartment falling apart.”
Jaswa said NYC Housing Preservation and Development inspectors visited the property to document all violations and the work that has been done at the building since the rally.
He added Judge Laurie Marin will preside over the first court hearing for 2454 Tiebout Avenue on Monday, August 15 at Bronx Housing Court.
As previously reported in the Bronx Times, Parkash was ranked ‘number one’ on NYC Public Advocate Letitia James’ ‘100 Worst Landlords in New York City’ last November for accumulating a staggering 2,369 violations in 11 of his 43 buildings. Parkash owns approximately 40 buildings in the Bronx.
The problematic properties include 2675 Creston Avenue, 2125 Cruger Avenue, 2487 Davidson Avenue, 180 E. 163rd Street, 58 E. 190th Street, 751 Gerard Avenue, 815 Gerard, 750 Grand Concourse, 2820 Sedgwick Avenue, 1530 Sheridan Avenue, 2454 Tiebout Avenue and 835 Walton Avenue.
Tenants from 15 of Parkash’s buildings established the Parkash Tenant Coalition and after a successful protest conducted in front of Bronx Housing Court on Thursday, June 2, Parkash agreed to meet with his tenants.