Tag Archives: repairs

Astoria tenants deal with patchwork repairs, possible eviction for complaints


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

Some residents of one rent-stabilized Astoria apartment building say they are tired of having to fight for what should be their basic rights as tenants.

Sally Aponte has been living at 28-28 35th St. since 1995 and said she started having issues with the building’s landlord, Peter Hiotis of P & T Management CO LLC, when it came to getting repairs completed within her apartment.

At first, Aponte decided to verbally ask her landlord for help with regard to these repairs, such as fixing a kitchen stove or repairing broken bathroom tiles, but after receiving what she calls “patchwork repairs,” she decided to finally file a formal complaint to 311 in 2007.

“He tends to always blame the tenants whenever you ask for repairs and I think he uses that to discourage you to ask for repairs,” Aponte said.

During this time, an attorney for the landlord also sent Aponte a letter advising her that if she made any further complaints, Hiotis would have to pursue eviction because she was allegedly violating the “rent stabilization code.”

Aponte added that the stove was fixed because Hiotis was fined by the FDNY but the rest of the problems in her home remained ignored until an inspector from the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) went to the home.

The inspector found nine violations within the home, such as exposed and sparking electrical wiring, defective and broken plastered surfaces on walls and ceilings, and a defective smoke detector.

And although some of the repairs have since been completed, albeit improperly, Aponte is facing eviction.

According to court documents, Aponte is facing eviction because she is being accused of withholding rent, harassing other tenants, and defacing vehicles of her landlord and other tenants. However, Aponte says she has evidence proving all those accusations as false and believes the eviction comes as a form of retaliation for reporting past and present neglected repairs.

“I didn’t do anything except stand up for my rights but here we have a landlord who is clearly abusing his tenant landlord rights and unfortunately I have to go through this process before I can claim my innocence and that’s unfair,” Aponte said.

Christie Agioutanti, who has been living at 28-28 35th St. for over 25 years, said her issues began in 2013 when she reached out to get her stove repaired. She says she had to go four months without a stove until she got a new one.

The following year she dealt with a broken refrigerator and after going through weeks of problems, Agioutanti became fed up and decided to take Hiotis to court with 28 outstanding repairs.

After an HPD inspector went to the home, they found 20 of those needed repairs to be violations, including a massive hole in her bathroom ceiling that had been covered by a drop ceiling.

Photo by Christie Agioutanti

Fixing this hole, pictured in 2014, was one of the repairs the court ruled Peter Hiotis had to complete in Christie Agioutanti’s home. (Photo by Christie Agioutanti)

Photos of the hole show deteriorating wooden beams and exposed water pipes. Agioutanti added that when the hole was fixed by an unlicensed contractor, it was patched up by layers of sheetrock and plaster and painted over.

A licensed carpenter, who asked to remain unnamed, was approached by The Courier with photos of the hole and the repair process. He said that although the sheetrock covers the issue, it does not solve it. He added that if the repairs are not completed from within the structure of the building, for example by repairing pipes or beams, then it would be just a matter of time before the damage would occur again.

Some of the violations that the HPD identified in Agioutanti’s apartment have yet to be repaired or have not been completed in a satisfactory manner, and she said that if she doesn’t not hear back from Hiotis’ lawyer, she will be forced to return to court.

Other issues throughout the building include a broken intercom system, and a super who asks to not be bothered past his work hours, according to the tenants.

Both Aponte and Agioutanti also add that other tenants are facing the same issues within the building but are afraid of speaking out because they fear facing eviction. They hope telling their stories will help other tenants come out of the shadows.

“He wants us tenants to live in the darkness,” Agioutanti said. “If you don’t know your rights, you can’t claim them.”

Hiotis declined to comment pending litigation.

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Maspeth residents speak out on Frank Principe Park repairs


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Salvatore Licata

Frank Principe Park in Maspeth is one step closer to getting the much-needed renovations the community has been wanting for years.

On May 13, Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley held a visioning session at Maspeth Town Hall where members of the community, as well as community leaders, came together with the New York City Parks Department to suggest changes that they would like to see made to Principe Park.

The visioning session comes on the heels of Crowley allocating $5.7 million in city funding in the Fiscal Year 2015 budget to enhance the park and create green space the community can easily utilize.

The last major capital project for the park was done in 1996, which was a $3 million upgrade to the playground, tennis and basketball courts.

Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley during last week's visioning session for Frank Principe Park. (Photo courtesy Elizabeth Crowley's office.)

Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley during last week’s visioning session for Frank Principe Park. (Photo courtesy Elizabeth Crowley’s office.)

“This funding will give new life to a park that has desperately needed it for decades. This renovation has been a top priority of Community Board 5 and the community for the past 10 years and I am pleased to finally get this done,” Crowley said. “I’m happy to have brought the public together to hear what they truly need in their backyards for their children, for their sports teams and for themselves.”

Currently, the park’s sports fields are prone to flooding and the asphalt running track is weather-beaten and outdated. Neither of these amenities have been upgraded since the park’s installation in the late 1980s.

During the visioning session, residents requested full-size soccer fields, baseball fields, astroturf on the fields, an adequate drainage system, high fences, bleachers, water fountains, garbage cans and other improvements.

Over the next few months, NYC Parks will consider the community’s suggestions and lay out a proposal which will be heard in the fall.

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Subway service returns to normal in Queens as derailment investigation continues


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo: MTA / Patrick Cashin

Updated Monday, May 5, 5:20 p.m.

As transit service returns to normal following a subway derailment in Woodside Friday, the MTA continues to investigate the derailment and why a section of rail at the accident site broke.

A preliminary investigation has found that the broken rail that was discovered where the train derailed was manufactured last November and installed this March, the MTA said.

“The MTA has not determined how or why the rail broke. Speed or human error do not appear to be a factor [in the derailment],” MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz said.

The broken rail section will be sent for testing as the investigation into the derailment’s cause continues.

In a release Saturday, the transit agency emphasized its safety record, and track and other maintenance efforts, and said the city’s subway system has experienced only 17 mainline derailments in the last decade.

Crews spent the weekend removing the subway train that derailed about 10:25 a.m. Friday just south of the 65th and Broadway R and M local stop. By 5 a.m. Monday E, F, M and R service, which had been affected by the accident, had returned to normal along the Queens Boulevard line.

The Brooklyn-bound F train was on the express track when the six center cars of the eight-car train derailed, injuring 19 and forcing about a 1,000 riders to evacuate, officials said. Of those hurt, 15 suffered minor injuries and four were taken to the hospital with potentially serious injuries.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Stranger pays for elderly Queens couple’s sidewalk repairs


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

A good Samaritan — and complete stranger — has stepped up to aid an embattled, elderly Whitestone couple burdened with the charge of sidewalk repairs they say should not have been on their hands to begin with.

Judith Smith, 68, and her husband Everett, 71, were told by the city’s Department of Transportation in June to fix two concrete slabs, totaling 70 square feet of sidewalk, deemed broken and improperly sloped, according to a notice of violation issued by the agency.

But the furious pair said the defective squares are not their legal responsibility, pointing to their house deed as proof. The slabs, instead, are connected to an adjacent community driveway, jointly owned by the 22 homeowners on the street, they said.

The 14-foot driveway — or “right of way,” as described in the couple’s mortgage — leads up to a parking area filled with 22 separate garages and belongs to each of the homeowners along 147-23 Willets Point Boulevard.

The total cost of repair should be split between each of the homeowners, the Smiths said, but since their home is planted directly next to the easement — located in the middle of the residential street — the charge for repairs and role of the lot’s sole caretaker involuntarily had come barreling down on them.

According to the city’s repair guideline prices, the landowners of 30 years, who rely on retirement income, could have found themselves shelling out close to $700.

But after The Courier first reported the couple’s grievance in a detailed August 30 cover story, the Smiths were then reached out to by a major television network. Their troubles were broadcast at 8 a.m. on Tuesday, September 4, and within 30 minutes, the Smiths said they received a phone call from a private cement company contractor who wanted to help them out for free.

“I’m thrilled. I couldn’t be happier. I’m really indebted to them,” Judith said. “He’s taken the liberty to dip into his own pockets to repair two flags that I should really sue the neighbors for. I’m forever grateful to him.”

The couple’s hero, who they have yet to meet, wanted to remain anonymous.

Whitestone couple faces walkway woes


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

An infuriated Whitestone couple has a bone to pick with the city after they were pinned for violations on 70 square feet of sidewalk outside their property line.

The city’s Department of Transportation (DOT) told Judith and Everett Smith this June to fix two broken and improperly sloped concrete slabs of sidewalk, according to a notice of violation issued by the agency. But the furious pair said the defective squares are not their legal responsibility — pointing to their deed as proof — and instead are connected to an adjacent community driveway, jointly owned by the 22 homeowners on the street.

The 14-foot driveway — or “right of way,” as described in the couple’s mortgage — leads up to a parking area filled with 22 separate garages and belongs to each of the homeowners along 147-23 Willets Point Boulevard.

But since the Smiths’ home is planted directly next to the easement — located in the middle of the residential street — the charge for repairs and role of the lot’s sole caretaker involuntarily came barreling down on the embattled landowners.

“I feel dejected,” said Judith, 68. “We shouldn’t be held accountable for fixing it.”

The Smiths, Whitestone residents for 30 years, had recently made repairs to two other defective sidewalk slabs outside their home, shelling out close to $600 to do so, they said. But costs to maintain the two slabs connected to the driveway, they said, should be split between the 22 homeowners who share the garage area.

“Every house should be forced to pay for it,” said Everett, 71. “It’s disappointing. I wouldn’t live in the city if I had to do it all over. They’re chasing people out. Why should I pay for everybody here and they get the benefit?”

The total cost of repairs was unknown as of press time, but according to the DOT’s guideline prices, the Smiths, who rely on retirement income, could find themselves out of pocket close to another $700.

A spokesperson for the DOT said the owners of the two properties adjacent to the driveway entrance are responsible for making the sidewalk corrections.

“This responsibility remains regardless of any separate arrangement the property owners may have made with other parties for use of the parking area,” the spokesperson said.

The homeowner living on the other side of the driveway declined to comment when approached by The Courier. But neighbor John Holmes, who lives in one of the 22 houses along the easement, said he would not mind relieving some of the Smiths’ burden.

“It seems to make sense for all of us to foot the money. It’s a common driveway,” Holmes said. “The city has to assign it to somebody, but everybody uses it. It’s everybody’s problem.”