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WaHi Tenants Left Without Gas for 5 Months to Get Service Back, Pol Says

By Nigel Chiwaya | October 23, 2013 6:33am
 Gas service will be restored beginning Friday, Oct. 25, Councilman Robert Jackson's office said.
Gas to be restored at 525 West 156th St
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WASHINGTON HEIGHTS — The Washington Heights tenants left without gas for five months after claiming their landlord ignored their demands for repairs will have service restored to them by the end of the week, an uptown city councilman's office said Tuesday.

After a DNAinfo New York story prompted officials to put pressure on the building's landlord, representatives from Councilman Robert Jackson's office said gas would be turned back at 525 West 156th St. on Friday morning. Workers from Con Edison would begin visiting each of the building's 26 apartments starting at 8:30 a.m., the office said.

Residents in the building have been without cooking gas since May 8, when a leaky cellar pipe forced Con Ed to turn off service. Since then tenants said their landlord, Upper East Side lawyer Jason Green, ignored all of their phone calls and provided no answers as to when service would be restored.

Several tenants said the first they heard from the landlord was when he showed up uninvited to a September meeting between the tenants and a rep from the Riverside Edgecomb Neighborhood Association, whom the tenants had reached out to for help.

Green claimed that he had made the repairs and that the city was behind the hold up.

Green reiterated that claim on Tuesday, telling DNAinfo that the Department of Buildings and Con Ed were responsible for the delay.

"I retained somebody the very same day [gas] got shut off," Green said. "With bureaucracy between ConEd and the Department of Buildings and all of the red tape, it's been a delay.

"It's costing me a fortune," Green added. "I have no benefit for not having gas. It's been a disaster."

Reps from the Department of Buildings disputed that claim, telling DNAinfo the landlord had not filed paperwork with Buildings to make repairs or get it inspected until recently.

Jackson's office stepped in after DNAinfo's Oct. 7 story on the building, contacting the landlord, Con Ed and the Department of Buildings in an attempt to get the gas turned back on. The building's master plumber inspected all of the apartments on Oct. 9, reps said.

Tenants also say the building's superintendent has been busy making repairs to apartments since the story ran.

"The super has been working nonstop," said tenant Anthony Guerra. "It feels good. It feels like something is finally being done."

While representatives from Jackson's office were pleased with the results, they used the opportunity to remind residents to file complaints to 311.

"First call is to landlord," said Jackson rep Martin Collins. "But if nothing's done you've got to call 311."

"The value is not just [in] notification to the city," Collins added. "It's also a record of evidence in any proceeding should there be any delay on the part of the owner."