By Patrick Hedlund
DNAinfo News Editor
CHINATOWN — A group of tenants at a Madison Street building cited as one of the most neglected in Manhattan claimed their landlord turned the heat on inside their building last week during a sweltering summer day in retaliation for residents protesting about poor living conditions.
Tenants at 197 Madison St. alleged the heat was in response to last Monday's demonstration in front of the building, which was used as a backdrop for Bill de Blasio to announce the creation of a new online database tracking the city’s worst landlords.
In response, residents assembled with de Blasio outside the building again Tuesday to say they would not be intimidated by such tactics.
"This landlord has really been the worst of them all, because he responded with retaliation," de Blasio said, noting that other landlords outed in the new database have already moved to address violations at their properties.
"Any further retaliation will be the basis of court action," he added.
The Department of Housing Preservation and Development responded to a call last Wednesday of excessive heat inside the building as outside temperatures surpassed 90 degrees, HPD spokesman Eric Bederman confirmed. The department was able to get the landlord to shut off the boiler.
The agency issued the owner a class C violation — the type given for serious offenses that present immediately hazardous conditions — for having the heat on when temperatures exceeded 88 degrees, Bederman said.
The spokesman could not speak to how or why the heat was turned on, and a call to property owner New Golden Age Realty Inc. was not immediately returned.
However, the building’s repairman, Can Ye Yu, disputed tenants’ claims that the heat was purposely turned on, explaining through a translator that it occurred because of a malfunctioning boiler.
But the fact that the heat came just days after last week’s protest — especially given that some tenants have complained of not having heat in the winter — made some question the coincidence.
"It's inhumane," de Blasio said, adding that many children and senior citizens live in the building. "It was clearly an act of retaliation."