NEW YORK — City leaders are calling out what they describe as an absentee landlord.
From a front door that doesn’t lock, to going long stretches without heat and hot water, residents in the Hell’s Kitchen units have been forced to live in deplorable conditions.
CBS2’s Aundrea Cline-Thomas went inside one of the buildings Thursday and has more on their concerns.
Cline-Thomas and Councilman Erik Bottcher had to watch their steps as they navigated the vacant apartment.
“The ceiling here is totally open right up into the bottom of the tub in the floor upstairs,” Bottcher said.
He said squatters call one unit and others at 410 W. 46th Street home, and have even put a mattress in one of the rooms. Residents said the space is used for illicit activities.
“People doing drugs in the halls. That’s just to get to your apartment. We live on the top floor, so we have to walk by all of that,” Marc Kessler said.
Residents captured video that they say shows squatters exiting out of a window.
Nearly 200 complaints have been made to 311 in recent years, most for maintenance concerns like flooding in the hallway and overall unsanitary living conditions.
The landlord also owns 412, the building next door, which was condemned years ago after a fire.
“Thanksgiving, we have no heat. Christmas, we had no heat, and New Year’s, we had no heat. Every holiday it was torture,” resident John Reeds said.
Both 410 and 412 are on the market to be sold for $11.7 million. They are being advertised as ripe for renovation to increase rents and occupancy.
“What we want the city to do is take control of these buildings from the landlord, take control from the landlord and the city can carry out the repairs, itself,” Bottcher said.
The city took the landlord to Housing Court.
“HPD and our partners in the community are working together to address the conditions these tenants are facing as quickly as possible,'” said William Fowler of the Department of Housing and Preservation Development.
“I have a rent-stabilized apartment that I’m paying, you know, a decent amount of money for. To get anything close to what I have would probably be doubling my rent,” Reeds said.
Reeds said he still pays his rent, adding after 30 years the community is home and that he has nowhere else to go.
Residents say the conditions have them fearing for their safety. The court proceedings between the landlord and the city are ongoing.