QUEENS — Ronald Peters has not seen his wife since Dec. 7, the day the elevator in his 6-story building on Austin Street, near 84th Road, in Kew Gardens was shut down for a major repair.
The 82-year old Korean War veteran, who needs a walker to move around and is unable to climb stairs, was forced to temporarily relocate to a Holiday Inn near the Veterans Hospital in Brooklyn where he had a number of appointments scheduled for December and January, he said.
His wife Virginia, 80, who also can't climb stairs, stayed in their apartment on the top floor.
Peters, who said he has been unable to get in touch with his landlord, PSRS Realty Group, since early December, already paid more than $7,000 for his stay at the hotel, according to the bills he shared with DNAinfo New York.
Now, he wants the landlord to pay him back, he said.
“They should reimburse me because what do they want me to do? Go up these steps?" said Peters, who has a pacemaker and suffers from diabetes and high blood pressure, among other illnesses. "I can’t go up six flights.”
“It’s so aggravating," he said, adding that if the landlord does not reimburse him, he will consider legal action.
PSRS Realty Group did not return multiple phone calls from DNAinfo seeking comment.
Sateesh Nori, an attorney with the Legal Aid Society, said that while Peters' situation was different than other tenants and he would have to look into it, most seniors in the building qualify to receive some form of reimbursement.
“Legally, they have not just the right to have an elevator that works — and if it’s broken it should be repaired immediately — but also, given that the elevator has been broken for so long, they are entitled to some compensation because part of their rent goes to making sure the elevator works, garbage is taken out, the electricity is working, plumbing is working, etc.," he said.
Nori and other attorneys from the Legal Aid Society, which represents low-income residents, came to the building on Jan. 9 and spoke to a dozen of tenants about their situation.
Soon, the group is planning to send a letter to the landlord with their demands, Nori said, including compensation, which he said may vary depending on the case.
“Some people live on the first floor, others on the sixth floor, some people are able to walk, others are totally unable to walk,” he said.
The tenants said the elevator, which had been in the building since it opened in the 1950s, was old and broke down often. And while the repairs were badly needed, choosing to take it offline in the middle of the holiday season was a poor choice in timing.
Local residents have been trying to help the seniors stranded in their apartments by carrying their groceries and other heavy bags.
Men working on the elevator last week said it should be ready by Jan. 18, but it will have to be inspected by the Department of Buildings.