Accused Uptown Slumlord Should Be Behind Bars, City Councilman Says

By Nigel Chiwaya on October 23, 2013 9:42am 

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  Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez had his harshest words yet for landlord Hugo Juarez over unmade repairs.
Ydanis Rodriguez Calls Out WaHi Landlord
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WASHINGTON HEIGHTS — City Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez said an uptown landlord who has been accused repeatedly of leaving his tenants without heat, electricity and basic working facilities should be jailed for his offenses.

Speaking in front of the three West 183rd Street buildings owned by landlord Hugo "Eduardo" Juarez, Rodriguez said the time for negotiations and patience is over.

"Eduardo Juarez should be in jail," said Rodriguez, who was flanked by residents and Assemblywoman Gabriela Rosa. "We need to get rid of him, because he does not represent what a good landlord does in this city."

Tenants in Juarez's buildings — 558, 560 and 562 West 183rd St. — went without power for three weeks in February after he allegedly stopped paying his electricity bill.

Rodriguez has stood alongside Juarez's tenants in housing court several times since then, most recently in July, when the landlord agreed to pay $4,000 in fines, give the tenants a rent abatement and repair all of the outstanding violations.

Over the past 10 years, the city has spent more than $40,000 in emergency repairs for Juarez's apartments, and as of Tuesday afternoon the city Department of Housing Preservation and Development still listed 130 open violations in the three buildings.

The residents and Juarez will be back in court on Oct. 31, and Rodriguez implored Judge Cheryl Gonzales not to let the landlord make any more agreements.

"He should not get one more chance," Rodriguez said.

Juarez, who did not respond to requests for comment Tuesday afternoon, has previously defended himself by labeling the tenants as "squatters" who don't pay rent.

However, tenants disputed that characterization Tuesday.

"We pay the rent," Pircilio German, 76, said in Spanish. "He should make the repairs."

German, who has lived in the building since 1969, gave a tour of his apartment, showing loose sink knobs, a leaking ceiling and a back door that hung off one hinge. When asked why he didn't move, German said he couldn't afford to.

"I don't make enough money," German said in Spanish, "and rent here is so expensive."

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