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The Greenpointer Racking Up Building Code Violations

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Curbed Horror Stories are firsthand reader reports about terrible NYC apartment experiences past and present. This week, in honor of Renters Week, we're having a rental horror story showdown. We'll post one or two horror stories each day with a vote for the best on Thursday. The winner will advance to the national round of our network-wide contest. Horror stories to tips@curbed.com, if you please.

"My rental horror story technically involves five apartments in less than 6 months (three leased, 2 denied)... It was series of unfortunate events which all started in the spring of
2009 with a small electrical fire in the ceiling of our bedroom, a call to 911, and an emergency electrician who subsequently informed me that the wiring in our entire building was extremely dangerous, inadequate, and could cause a fire at any time. My concern was great due to the fact that I was a new mother and had two small children that lived in the apartment with me. After informing the landlord of the problem and no repairs, I called the appropriate authorities who sent an inspector, only to find a half dozen more violations, including lead based paint. Evidently, landlords are not required to comply with fundamental building codes and/or the violations they receive are less expensive then correcting the hazardous conditions as no repairs were made after months of calls/complaints? so began our search for a new apartment.

Two months and two discrimination cases based on familial status later (building owners tend to reject applications for those with small children); we found an apartment that was under renovation and signed a lease to begin mid-month. Well? the apartment was never finished on time and stayed that way until we were forced to find yet another place to live. There were no light fixtures, switches, no appliances, and no locks on the windows or doors. Again I called the inspector, violations where cited, and nothing was repaired. On top of everything, the owner/management company refused to let us out of the lease or return our rent; our original deposit was also denied.

Another month and thousands of dollars down the drain, we found what seemed to be a decent, newly constructed, and finished building for everyone to live. While we paid nearly double our original rent, I figured the old saying must hold true, “you get what you pay for”. Or, do you? After just two months it looked like a pattern was starting to emerge: numerous code violations, multiple attempts to contact the landlord, and no repairs. Finally, we were forced to move when my son was continually sick from the toxic mold forming from leaks throughout the building that the owner had concealed but never fixed; black mold which was confirmed by a certified inspector.

What’s great is that through months of legal and housing research, I found that all of our delinquent landlords were also practicing attorneys and/or real estate agents. They own and manage many properties, under many different company names, all of which are in court defending themselves for tenant disputes."
· Curbed Horror Stories archive [Curbed]
· Renters Week 2011 coverage [Curbed]