Tenants at one Crown Heights building say they’re fed up with their landlord not fixing deteriorating building conditions.
Ayanna Dore moved into 567 Saint John’s Place just as the city went into lockdown last year. Now, she’s just one of several of the building’s eight tenants who are rallying for better living conditions.
“It’s just unsafe and I’m scared for my babies,” Dore said.
The asthmatic mother of two showed News 12 photos of what she said is mold in her shower, and is fearing for her health and that of her newborn baby.
“The mold in the bathroom causes me to have asthma attacks a lot,” Dore said.
News 12 spoke to landlord Gerard Tema on the phone who said he had a contractor come in and determine that it’s not mold. He added that many of the tenants scream at him and don’t pay rent.
“They scream at me. They don’t pay the rent and disrespect me,” Tema said.
Many of the tenants confirmed they stopped paying rent last year, but they say it’s because they believe a foreclosure notice in August instructed them not to.
Adding that regardless, tenants said it’s unacceptable to have the floor coming up in the lobby, rotted pipes in the kitchen and rats running around their apartments,
“I keep calling him to say I need help, you have to come and fix it, you have to do something. He said ‘Yes, I’m coming,’ and he never came,” said tenant Yasmine Chimothe.
But again, Tema said he did come with an exterminator.
“This guy, I have contract with him, he’s coming sometimes twice a month, once a month,” Tema said.
The tenants said they’ve had enough and joined the Crown Heights Tenant Union to get help file a claim under property law 7-A which allows housing court to remove a negligent landlord.
The Crown Heights Tenant Union has 85 member buildings in Crown Heights and Flatbush that help to unite renters against unfair treatment.
“Private ownership allows landlords to become rich off of the backs of working-class people,” Joel Feingold, of the Crown Heights Tenant Union.
But Tema said he’s not getting rich at all. He said he would rather do what it takes to keep his tenants than have to find new ones.
“If anything to fix, I’m open to fix, but they have to let me know,” Tema said.
Tenants said they have let him know and nothing has changed, and they hope it doesn’t get worse before it gets better.
“It will to take something bad to happen for it to get done and it shouldn’t be like that,” Dore said.