Tenants at a rent-stabilized Pelham Bay building are calling for changes.
At 3555 Bruckner Boulevard., run by Abro Management, the tenant’s association called an emergency meeting to discuss a recent stop-work order issued at the property after the superintendent began demolition to combine his two units without any work permits, said TA president Sonja Melendez.
“That created a lot of concern in tenants minds, if we’ve been exposed to asbestos and lead,” said Melendez about the situation.
But the unpermitted work is just the latest in what tenants feel is a long stream of offenses from management, which Melendez said includes a lack of repairs, difficulty contacting management, management trying to take tenants’ rent-regulated parking spaces, taking tenants to court falsely, and other forms of harassment.
“A lot of things have come to a head,” said Melendez.
One of many issues is that building has major problems with water and leaks that have never been structurally addressed, said TA vice-president Patricia McConnell.
When it rains, the roof floods, and the water creates bubbles on the walls on multiple floors, she said, which are periodically scrapped and painted over.
“Water is just seeping through the building, and management keeps patching the roof,” said McConnell.
Water has been an issue in Melody Ruiz’s apartment since she moved in in 2012. The constant leaking and damage to her bathroom ceiling was fixed with patches instead of investigating the source of the problem, said Ruiz, until it finally collapsed on May 31 when she was about to get in to the shower.
“They keep doing the same thing over and over,” said Ruiz. “They refuse to do the work correctly.”
And since Ruiz filed for a rent reduction due to the condition of the bathroom a year and a half ago, she’s felt harassed by management.
“They try to scare me,” said Ruiz.
Tenants in the building have filed a Tenant’s Statement of Complaint-Harassment, and the tenants association recently sent a letter to management and the Department of Homes and Community Renewal, which oversees rent stabilization in the state, titled “How Abro Management is Decreasing our services building wide”
Offenses alleged in the letter include: refusing tenants correspondence regarding repairs in their apartment; rent slips that are hard to understand, with incorrect information; and intimidation, retaliation, and harassment by the office, manager, and super against tenants who exercise their rights.
“Abro is intentionally bullying tenants and not doing repairs when they call 311 for their complaints to the point that tenants are moving out in herds. We feel that Abro is deliberately harassing and intimidating tenants to deregulate this rent-stabilized building, which is illegal,” the letter reads. “We implore DHCR to investigate any and all avenues to help this rent-stabilized building and its tenants with the past, current and future applications and concerns being brought to your attention.”
Senator Jeff Klein’s office, who has supported the tenants over the years and was instrumental in getting the stop-work order issued, also sent a letter to management imploring them to address building conditions, which have not improved despite his staff’s attempts at communication.
“All tenants have the right to feel safe, free from harm and live comfortably in their homes,” said Klein. “It’s imperative that the concerns of residents be addressed by management in a timely fashion and I will continue to work with the tenants’ association to ensure all issues are resolved .”
The tenants association will keep pushing for improvements, and know that without their advocacy, the situation would be much worse, said McConnell.
“We want the building to be safe. I don’t think that’s too much to ask,” she said.
Abro Management did not respond to the paper’s request for comment.