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Inwood Residents Sue Owners of Violation-Riddled Apartment Complex

By Gustavo Solis | October 24, 2017 9:55am
 Residents of three Arden Street buildings are suing a landlord who paid $12 million for their homes. 
Arden Street
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INWOOD — Tenants of an Arden Street apartment complex where they say mold, lead paint and cockroaches are making conditions unlivable are suing their mysterious landlords to force them to fix more than 130 housing code violations.

Arden 24 LLC, behind which there is no public face, paid $12 million to buy the property at 24, 28 and 32 Arden sts. last March.

Residents said they have already been hit with a 2 percent rent increase, but the new management has not provided any information about an upgrade on living conditions, according to the lawsuit filed in Manhattan Supreme Court on Oct. 19.

The 134 violations from the city's Department of Housing Preservation and Development cite mold, lead paint, water leaks and cockroaches.

"I pay rent every month, why isn't my apartment getting fixed," said Sheffer Moreno, 40, who lives in the building. "It's that simple."

On rare occasions that repairs are made, the work is sloppy, added resident Maria Claramunt, 53. 

“They do the work, but it’s a patch-up job," she said. "My bathroom was done four times this year. Why does it have to be done four times?”

Every two or three months, the superintendent uses a snake to drain bathroom tubs to keep brown water from bubbling up, Claramunt added.

About 30 of the building's 68 units are included in the lawsuit.

Residents said they’ve never met the building manager or seen the owner. Nobody has filed any work permits with the Department of Building since the new owner took over, records show.

“The only thing they said was where to pay the rent, and that’s it," Moreno said. "We’ve never seen a property manager since we got the new landlord.”

The LLC’s address is a post office box that has multiple limited liability corporations linked to it. DNAinfo New York could not locate the property managers listed with HPD, Mike Spera and Abraham Albert. 

“It’s really hard for tenants to fight against their landlords these days because they hide behind these companies," said the tenants' lawyer, Jane Li from the Urban Justice Center. 

"They have LLCs, and it’s hard to say who is their landlord and who is accountable. We’re hoping to bring the landlord to court so they can be held accountable for their actions."