Tag Archives: tenants

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.


New civic association brings Ridgewood tenants together

| editorial@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo courtesy of New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission


A Ridgewood activist announced Wednesday morning the formation of the Ridgewood Tenants and Neighborhood Association (RTNA), which aims to empower and increase representation for Ridgewood renters.

“We want to foster meaningful dialogue on how to continue making Ridgewood a livable and affordable neighborhood for all residents,” said Henry Cross, one of the group’s co-chairs. “We believe that Ridgewood can retain its rich cultural diversity of its tenants and residents that are low- to moderate-income working people. Everyone is welcome to connect, participate and advocate … around the issues that affect the lives of everyday Ridgewood people.”

The group, co-chaired by Cross and Queens College Professor Stephanie Wakefield, hopes to interact with other civic groups and local elected officials, as well as host town hall meetings and forums to foster an exchange of ideas, concerns and experiences within the neighborhood. According to Cross, the RTNA’s main objective is to “generate a stable but dynamic and participatory neighborhood for all” while helping to “amplify the voice of tenants and residents within a changing neighborhood.”

The RTNA will host its first public forum, titled “Ridgewood: Your Voices, Your Issues,” at 6 p.m. on Monday, April 27, at the Ridgewood Library, located at 2012 Madison St. This event follows a February panel discussion Cross moderated titled “Ridgewood: Preserve, Discover and Redefine” at Topos Bookstore Cafe on Woodward Avenue.

“This forum was a huge success,” Cross said. “It was out of this meeting we decided to officially form the Ridgewood Tenants and Neighborhood Association, to create an organized framework to continue to respond to the challenges posed by the changes coming to Ridgewood.”

Residents and tenants interested in learning more about the RTNA’s events, goals and upcoming agenda can click here or email ridgewoodtenants@gmail.com.


Teen’s Alleged Assaulter Pretended To Be A Police Officer

| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

Teen’s Alleged Assaulter Pretended To Be A Police Officer

Police were searching late Tuesday for a man who allegedly pretended to be a police officer and sexually assaulted a teenage boy he met in a subway station in Sunset Park, Brooklyn last week. Investigators say the man approached a 15-year-old boy at the 53rd Street and Fourth Avenue station around 9:30 a.m. Friday, after the teen threw an empty bag of potato chips on the ground. Authorities said the teen claimed the man displayed what looked like a police shield and told the boy to get into his white van. They say the suspect drove to 92nd Street and Dahlgren Place in Bay Ridge, where he sexually assaulted the boy. Read More: NY1

The mistakes that took 5 lives

Two fatal mistakes may have cost the lives of the three little girls and their grandparents who died Christmas morning when a century-old Victorian mansion went up in flames and turned into a death trap. Fire marshals in Stamford, Connecticut, said the owner’s boyfriend, contractor Michael Borcino, put still-smoldering embers from a yule log into some kind of a bag — and then left it leaning against an outside rear wall of the $1.7 million house. The marshals said the embers had not been doused with water. On the other side of the wall was a mud room. Read More: New York Post

Flushing neighborhood mourns closing of Palace Diner, a local mainstay since 1976

The Palace Diner, a Flushing mainstay that served as a cozy gathering place for local residents and politicians alike, is shutting its doors for good on Friday. “I’ve had a good run, it’s time,” said owner George Mantzikos. “I’ve been fortunate to have good customers and good employees.” The diner, known for its Greek specialties, fresh fish and chops, will be replaced by an “upscale Chinese restaurant,” he said. Read More: Daily News

Ozone Park unites for fallen officer Peter Figoski

In light of the fact that four of the five men nabbed as suspects in the tragic, shooting death of fallen officer Peter Figoski are from Ozone Park, elected officials and residents of the community banded together to raise money and spirits for Figoski’s family. “We wanted to do something in this community to show that those criminals are not a reflection of the people in this neighborhood. There are good, solid people in this community,” said Matt Turner of the Make a Difference Christmas Effort. The Make a Difference Christmas Effort — which hosted a benefit on December 22 at St. Mary Gate of Heaven School — raised $5,000 for the wife and four daughters Figoski leaves behind. Read More: Queens Courier

Rent-stabilized Jamaica tenants sue landlord;  they say he boosted rents to force  them out  

More than 40 longtime Jamaica tenants are suing their landlord for charging them large lump sums for building improvements they claim were never adequately made, in an effort to force them out of their homes. Residents of 90-36 149th Street, which is owned by Zara Realty Holding Corp., said their rent shot up thousands of dollars this year after the state approved a hike for rent-stabilized tenants. It was granted because Zara claimed to have installed a new roof and repaired the building’s brick exterior. But landlords are only allowed to raise rents 6 percent annually for rent-stabilized tenants, according to the tenants’ lawyers — not ask for one bulk payment. Read More: Daily News

Group wants to preserve ‘historic’ Elmhurst library

Over 106 years, some structures become staples of their communities. This is the sentiment one Elmhurst civic association has expressed regarding the neighborhood’s historic library, which is set to be torn down and replaced with a larger, more modern facility. Members of the Newtown Civic Association are puzzled by Queens Library’s decision to destroy the community “landmark,” which opened in 1906 and is one of the last remaining libraries built with funding from philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. Read More: Queens Courier