Tenants in one apartment complex in Jamaica have filed suit against their landlord, alleging unfair and repeated rent increases and a laundry list of basic repairs left disregarded.
“A lot of people are moving out of the building,” said Nelson Lopez, a tenant in the complex located at 90-36 149th Street. “Some people just can’t pay the rent because the landlord keeps raising it.”
Among the host of complaints, tenants say they live with vermin, leaky roofs, mold, rotting cabinets, cracked floors, broken locks and inadequate heat.
According to Eric Bederman, spokesperson for the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD), in regards to complaints filed through 3-1-1, “there are no open housing code violations at this property and the agency does not have any pending litigation against the owner for anything at the property.”
However, a large-scale “full roof-to-cellar” inspection of the building has not been conducted, he said.
Bederman also said an HPD housing code inspector did issue a heat and hot water violation for a room in one apartment in the complex in February, but he said the landlord complied and corrected the issue.
“If something is not right, I can guarantee it will be fixed instantly,” said landlord George Subraj, president of Zara Realty which manages the building complex. “I always immediately attempt to fix the problems, but [the tenants] don’t let me into their apartments or give me access to get the repairs done. I always check to make sure we are doing good work.”
Subraj said the accusations of vermin and unsanitary conditions within the complex are false, believing most of the complaints and anger stem from the increase in rent after capital improvements were made throughout the building.
“This is a vendetta. It’s only noise they’re making. All this hoopla is for nothing,” Subraj said. “They just don’t want to pay.”
According to Subraj, the monthly rent went up an additional $61 per room. He said the tenants agreed to comply with rent increases — that stem from building-wide improvements — when they signed their lease.
The improvements completed before 2009 included adding new roofing and vandal-resistant doors, water proofing bricks and fixing elevators, intercom systems and boilers.
Subraj said the rent increases were approved by the state, but the Department of Homes and Community Renewal (HCR) declined to comment on the increase due to privacy laws.