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Corona Tenants Plan Suit Against Landlord for 'Uninhabitable' Conditions

By Katie Honan | June 11, 2015 8:41am
 Residents of the building on 37th Avenue say the building's owners haven't made necessary repairs.
Residents of the building on 37th Avenue say the building's owners haven't made necessary repairs.
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Constantino Tejeda/Woodside on the Move

CORONA — Tenants living in "uninhabitable" apartments plan to file a suit against their landlord this week to make fixes on the building, which has more than 100 open violations, records show.

Residents of the 76-unit building at 96-10 37th Ave. say they've been without adequate heat and hot water for months, and live with ceiling leaks, cracks in the walls and vermin throughout.

They've teamed up with the Community Development Project at the Urban Justice Center, who are filing a lawsuit on behalf of the tenants against Benedict Realty Group to improve conditions inside their apartments, they said.

There are more than 100 open violations at the building, according to the Housing Preservation and Development.

It also has two open violations regarding its elevator, according to the Department of Buildings. 

But Daniel Benedict, an owner of the realty group, said his agency was "very surprised" about the pending lawsuit and they've spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in recent months to make repairs. 

They purchased the building in September 2011.

"We have never been the subject of a tenant lawsuit of this nature and take pride in our relations with our tenants as well as the way in which we maintain our buildings," he said in an email. 

The group spent $600,000 over the last 18 months on new elevators, front doors, a new trash compactor and chute and upgraded electric, he said. 

He also said some of the photos from tenants were "being represented in bad faith" and the issues had been fixed. He also said a "large proportion" of the violations have been addressed, and they are waiting for HPD to remove the violations. 

But residents still protested in front of the building Wednesday and said the landlords don't want to fix their apartments — and some feared it's a tactic to push them out.

“To get repairs has become a privilege for tenants instead of a basic service or basic right,” activist Constantino Tejeda told the Queens Courier.

“They pay the rent every month in order to get those basic services. They’re begging for their services.”