WASHINGTON HEIGHTS — Residents of three Washington Heights apartment buildings are without power and say that their landlord has stopped paying his electric bill as a way to drive them out.
Tenants in the buildings — located at 558, 560 and 562 West 183rd Streets — say that they have been without power, heat and hot water since February 12, forcing them to climb stairways and navigate their apartments in the dark, and leaving them cold in the middle of winter.
"It's been two weeks without electricity," said resident Francisco Rodriguez in Spanish. "The stairs are dark, we don't have any heat."
Residents, who are forced to carry flashlights and boil water on the stove, said that their landlord, Eduardo Juarez, claims he cannot afford to pay the electric bill.
"Every time, he says 'I don't any money,'" said Mirian Rivera in Spanish. "Even though I pay my rent every month. I don't have a problem with the rent."
Rivera pointed to the for-sale signs that adorn the building, arguing that the landlord is trying to make them move in order to sell the building.
"He's harassing us so that we'll move and he can get a better offer," said Rivera, who has lived in the building for 28 years.
City Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez, whose office has been working with the tenants this week, blasted Juarez.
"This is unacceptable, keeping these tenants living in this situation without heat and electricity," said Rodriguez. "There could be a fire, especially with the candles that they're using to have some light in this building."
Rodriguez also criticized ConEd and the city for failing to keep the lights on in the stairwells and added that he hoped the city would restore power to the buildings immediately.
"We hope that the city sends an immediate emergency response team with ConEd to get electricity in these buildings, because if something happens here, the city will be responsible," Rodriguez added.
Calls made to Juarez were not returned.