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Nov 30, 2014
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BRONX NEWS: Senators hold landlords’ feet to the fire over heat


They’re turning up the heat on these cold-hearted landlords.


That includes Abram Shnay, whose elderly Brooklyn tenants live in apartments so cold, many keep their ovens on for warmth.


And Julio Saldana, whose shivering Bronx residents wake up at night despite being buried under layers of blankets.


The landlords earned a place of disgrace on a new watchlist compiled by Bronx state Sen. Jeff Klein and his Independent Democratic Caucus cohorts, Sens. Tony Avella and Diane Savino.


The report, shared with the Daily News in advance of its release this week, singled out the landlords whose tenants registered the highest number of heat- and hot water-related complaints since November 2013.


“Unfortunately, there’s still some landlords . . . that aren’t following the letter of the law when it comes to heat and hot water,” Klein said. “We want to hold their feet to the fire, so to speak.”


Staffers examined data compiled by the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development on 235,000 rental units in privately owned subsidized affordable properties in the five boroughs. Primarily, they counted the number of heat complaints tenants made through the city’s 311 system. New York City Housing Authority buildings were not included in the study.


If the scarlet letter tactic works, it can’t come fast enough for tenants like Milton Oliver, 68, who lives in a seven-story building set aside for poor seniors Shnay owns on 80 Greene Ave. in Clinton Hill.


Oliver keeps his oven on high, its door wide open, to heat his modest second-floor flat.


“It’s frustrating being cold all the time,” the retired doorman said. “I don’t take a bath at night because it’s too cold.”


Conditions prompted tenants in the building to make 82 heat and hot water complaints over the past 12 months, more than any other spot in Brooklyn, according to the report.


Shnay, of Great Neck, N.Y., did not immediately return a call seeking comment.


When The News visited his building on a recent weekday, there was no heat coming from radiators in the apartments.


Last winter, HPD received 114,406 heat and hot water complaints citywide. The agency completed more than million in heat-related emergency repairs, according to the city’s website.


The reports produced by Klein, Savino and Avella listed the number of “violations” each property owner accumulated, though staffers clarified that the lawmakers were actually referring to complaints.


None of the five open housing code violations currently listed for Shnay’s building concerned heat or hot water, according to data listed on the HPD website, and officials said temperatures in the building fell within mandated limits on four separate inspections.


“With the temperatures starting to drop, our focus is on ensuring that landlords are living up to their legal obligation to provide heat to their tenants,” said HPD spokesman Eric Bederman. “If they fail in their responsibilities, we’ll step in to see that the problem is corrected.”


Tenants who are cold typically begin by asking their landlord for help. If no repairs are made, they usually call 311. The city will then send an inspector to check the building and its boiler.


But that process frequently stalls when the owner or management company is unavailable. In cases of extreme need, the city has the power to make emergency repairs and bill the landlord later.


“Most of the time we don’t have hot water and, if we don’t have hot water, we don’t have heat,” said Stacy Spruill, who lives in the Ocean Park Acquisition complex with her three young children. “We have to turn on the stove, and you know that’s dangerous.”


When residents complain to management, they are told the problem is being worked on, she said.


The Rockaway complex captured the dubious distinction of having the most complaints in the borough — 187 between Nov. 2013 and Nov. 2014, according to Avella’s report.


Management officials at Ocean Park Acquisition could not be reached for comment.


Klein and colleagues outlined a series of recommendations they say would up the ante — including the establishment of a city-issued list of landlords who draw the most complaints from tenants.


That list would surely include a 47-unit Bronx building in University Heights, owned by Saldana, in which tenants have logged a borough-high 325 heat-related complaints since Oct. 1, 2013, according to the report.


The six-story building at 30 Buchanan Place has racked up a chilling 96 complaints since New York’s current “Heat Season” began, on Oct. 1, the report says.


Saldana did not return calls seeking comment.


“These little vents, this is what they call heat,” said Carolyn Jernigan, who lives on the second floor with her son, daughter and several grandchildren.


“Maybe they think because we’re low-income, they can get away with it,” she said. “I don’t understand how they let people like this own buildings!”


rblau@nydailynews.com


BRONX


University Avenue, L.P.

30 Buchanan Place

326 complaints


Fordham Fulton L.L.C.

530 E. 169th St.

459 complaints


Riverview Redevelopment Company, L.P.

1600 Sedgwick Ave.

118 complaints


B&L Concourse Housing Assc.

1290 Grand Concourse

108 complaints


MANHATTAN


AW Holdings L.P.

509 W. 135th St.

142 complaints


Morningside 126-127 L.L.C.

163 to 175 Morningside Ave.

91 complaints


French Apts. Housing Co.

324 W. 30th St.

89 complaints


Sterling Houses L.P.

104 138th St.

85 complaints


234-262 West 122 L.L.C.

234 W. 122nd St.

69 complaints


BROOKLYN


Green Ave. Assoc.

80 Greene Ave.

82 complaints


Sea Park East Housing

2960 W. 27th St.

57 complaints


Linden Plaza Housing Co.

671 to 747 Lincoln Ave.

56 complaints


Rockaway 154 L.L.C.

196 Rockaway Pkwy.

55 complaints


Kings Court Hosuing

9502 Kings Highway

51 complaints


QUEENS


Ocean Park Acquisition

120 Beach 19th St.

187 complaints


NYC Agency Properties

123-33 83rd Ave.

50 complaints


Dayton Beach Park

8100 Shore Front Pkwy.

20 complaints


STATEN ISLAND


Fox Hill Partners

141 Park Hill Ave.

58 complaints


Howland Hook Housing

35 to 85 Holland Ave.

34 complaints


T1 Unison Site Management L.L.C.

140 to 180 Park Hill Ave.

29 complaints


185-225 Park Hill corp.

185 and 225 Park Hill Ave.

29 complaints


Kimso Apartments L.L.C.

200 to 280 Park Hill Ave.

23 complaints


Source: Offices of state Sen. Jeff Klein, state Sen. Diane Savino, state Sen. Tony Avella


Senators hold landlords’ feet to the fire over heat

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