WaHi Tenants Say They've Been Without Gas for Five Months

By Nigel Chiwaya on October 7, 2013 8:10am 

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  Tenants at 525 West 156th St. say their landlord has ignored complaints since gas went out in May.
WaHi Tenants Have No Gas
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WASHINGTON HEIGHTS — Tenants in a Washington Heights building are accusing their landlord of ignoring a gas outage in their building that has lasted for five months.

Residents at 525 West 156th St. have been without cooking gas since May. They claim their landlord, Jason Green, of the Upper East Side law firm Green and Cohen, PC, has ignored phone calls and failed to make repairs needed to resume service.

"He don't give a damn," said Leon Frazier, who has lived in the building for more than 40 years.

A leaky cellar pipe forced Con Edison to turn off gas service to the building on May 8. Tenants said their constant complaints and phone calls have gone unanswered.

"In the beginning he wasn't answering nobody's calls or texts or anything concerning this situation," tenant Victoria Krouser said.

"I called him, I emailed him, no answer. I left him voice messages, no answer," added resident Anthony Guerra.

The tenants, who said they have been paying rent during the shutoff, claimed that Green showed up unannounced and uninvited to a tenants meeting held on Sept. 17 in the building's lobby.

He proceeded to say that he had fixed the pipes and that the city was the one behind the continued disruption of service.

"He showed up and he was very hostile," said Guerra, who has lived in the building for nine years. "He was basically claiming that he takes care of all of us, that he's a very good landlord and he fixes all of our issues."

Green did not return calls for comment.

However, Department of Housing Preservation and Development records show 91 violations at the building as of Oct. 4, including eight for disrupted gas service in nine of the building's 26 apartments. The gas violations stretch from May.

A DOB email obtained by DNAinfo New York shows that the city is pointing the blame right back at the landlord. The email, written to Community Board 12, states that the DOB has not received either records of, or a request for, inspection of the repaired pipe.

"The property owner has not filed to make repairs to the gas lines with the Department," DOB spokeswoman Kelly Magee said via email, adding that landlord's last action filed with the DOB was a test of the gas lines on May 9.

Magee outlined the steps that would be needed for gas service to be restored, saying that Green would have to submit reports to the DOB regarding tests of the affected gas lines, file to make repairs and then request authorization to turn gas back on after the repairs are completed.

Tired of being given the run-around, the tenants have reached out to community organizing groups, including the Riverside Edgecombe Neighborhood Association and the Harlem Community Law Office, for help. The tenants are also considering withholding rent in an effort to force Green to make the repairs.

"I was hoping that this would be taken care of by the end of June," Krouser said. "I didn't think it would be this long."

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