Archive for the tag 'slumlords'

The toxic mixture of flooded storm waters and oil at 301 Oriental Blvd. Photo by Susan Vosburgh

Last month we reported on the slow pace many landlords were taking in helping their tenants return their Sandy damaged buildings back to working order, focusing in on a building located at 301 Oriental Boulevard that was plagued by a wretched smell emanating from its basement. Still cursed with the menacing stench, the tenants of 301 Oriental Boulevard are taking their landlord to court, according to a story in the New York Daily News.

The tenants of the smelly Manhattan Beach building took their landlord to court on Tuesday telling housing court Judge Kevin McClanahan that the fumes have made them sick.

“This is a life-threatening situation,” Victoria Shklovsky told the Daily News. Shklovsky’s 79-year-old mother Nadezhda has been suffering from coughing, hypertension and shortness of breath, all a result from the fumes according to her mother’s doctor. Victoria also wasn’t spared the hazardous fumes, suffering inflamed eyes, vomiting and headaches. Both Victoria and her mother have temporarily left the building for fresher confines.

According to the Daily News, Judge McClanahan took a stern stand, telling the tenants that for their case to succeed, they’d have to have expert proof of the toxicity of the fumes. The Judge reminded the tenants that, “Your suppositions, even your fears, are not evidence,” and urged them to subpoena the tests the Environmental Protection Agency conducted on the building. Addressing Shklovsky’s claims directly, the Judge said, “A medical doctor is not an agency that can go onsite and determine danger.”

For his part, landlord Tomas Rosenthal’s lawyer, Avi Peison, claimed the landlord had already spent over $100,000 on repairs, having recently restored electricity and heat earlier this month. He also noted the difficulty of expediting speedy repairs in light of the building’s Zone A location.

The story has drawn the attention of local political leaders. Ari Kagan, 45th Assembly District Leader, came to court to support the tenants, and told the Daily News that, “I call it the building of horrors. I would encourage the landlord and managing agent to sleep one night there.”

Parts of 301 Oriental Blvd remains filled with a toxic oil-water mixture. (Photo by Susan Vosburgh)

Some of Southern Brooklyn’s landlords appear to be slow to help in fighting for their tenants’ rights to heat, hot water and electricity, and may even be adding obstacles to the mix.

Take, for instance, the case of 301 Oriental Boulevard in Manhattan Beach, which we told you about last week. A horrible stench has haunted the building for weeks, ever since Hurricane Sandy flooded the basement, causing water to mix with barrels of oil in storage. Residents complain the landlord has done little to rectify the situation, and many are concerned about their health as headaches and fatigue have set in.

“It’s been a month, going on a month, and we still have no utilities,” said 20-year-resident Susan Vosburgh. “Apparently there’s still oil in the building. I doubt any utilities will touch us because it has to be safe when they come in.”

Although pumping has already occurred, Vosburgh said the unskilled migrant workers the landlord hires keep missing rooms filled with the toxic oil-water mixture, and just this morning returned for the umpteenth time to pump out the elevator pit. On their first attempt at draining the basement, she claims they illegally pumped the hazardous materials into the street.

“The migrant workers he gets for like a dollar an hour, they forget this room and that room,” Vosburgh said. “I just want this cleaned up, we’re breathing the fumes.”

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Robert Haggerty was taking an afternoon nap when a neighbor woke him with shouts that his Lake Avenue home was on fire yesterday. The legally blind longtime Sheepshead Bay resident bolted out of bed and out the door, in time to find the home next door ablaze, and flames licking the side of his house.

“I’m just glad somebody woke him up, otherwise he’d be dead,” said a close relative who lives up the block.

In the bungalow colonies, wooden homes nearly 100 years old line the alleyway with little room in between. Only about three feet wide, the “avenue” in front of their home is nothing more than a walking path, and fire trucks are denied access. A small fire can quickly wipe out a community.

Luckily for Lake Avenue residents, scores of firefighters made it to the scene, linking hoses together and containing the blaze that started at 8 Lake Avenue in about 20 minutes. While Haggerty’s home next door had severe damage, and many of his belongings are headed for the trash, he did manage to save a prized possession: an urn with his deceased wife’s remains.

But, to Haggerty and other neighbors, the fire itself wasn’t much of a surprise. They say the property owner is a slumlord with a record of abuse.

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