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Tenants get the shaft

Bronx Times

It took a month with no service, the threat of filing for a rent reduction and the involvement of two elected officials, but tenants at 1650 Hutchinson River Parkway now finally have their elevator service restored - sort of.

Tenants held an emergency meeting with Councilman Jimmy Vacca July 5 to discuss why, after numerous complaints and 25 days of no service, the only elevator in the building was still out of service and what could be done if it was not repaired in the immediate future.

According to Ritchie Torres, Vacca’s director of housing, the Department of Buildings issued a violation to building owner Rok Realty Corp. for failure to provide elevator service on May 23.

The documents state the owner did not apply for a permit to repair the elevator until June 27, forcing tenants, some of them senior citizens, to walk up six flights to get in and out of their apartments.

“I wanna confess I’m not happy with the landlord,” said Councilman Jimmy Vacca. “I think this has taken too long and gone on for too long. I see many elderly people here. To climb steps in this weather is inhumane.”

The councilman’s office said if the elevator was not set to be repaired immediately, tenants could file for building-wide rent reduction.

The night the meeting was scheduled to take place, notes were put up in and around the building saying the elevator would be repaired the following day.

Torres said he was sure that was not a coincidence.

Tenant Nylsa Barris said the elevator issue has constantly been swept under the rug.

“There have been over 43 complaints about this building more than half have been about the elevator,” Barris said. “But it seems every time there was a breakdown and complaint that was filed, an inspector comes and out of all of the complaints checked, the only time I saw the owner getting any violations was only about four or five times. All of the other times, they write ‘issue resolved,’ when we have known for the longest time this elevator has had to be repaired and the issue was not resolved.”

Third floor tenant Rich Mancuso said tenants are constantly made broken promises that the elevator will be fixed.

“The elevator has been out for a month now. It’s just been neglect,” he said. “It hasn’t been taken care of. They promised it was going to be fixed for the last month. We have a 93-year-old man who hasn’t been down in a month and he has a pacemaker. The landlord put the sign up today saying it was supposedly going to get fixed tomorrow, but how do we know?”

The elevator was repaired the same day Vacca met with tenants, and the repair certified on June 27.

“It’s one thing if an elevator is inoperable for a day or two while the landlord seeks maintenance, but for a six-story building to go over a month without an operating elevator is completely inexcusable,” Vacca said. “Fortunately, the elevator finally received its proper repairs and I thank the tenants for bringing this to my attention.”

But tenants still complained that when the elevator stopped on certain floors there was a six-inch gap.

Senator Jeff Klein stepped in this time, contacting the elevator maintenance company and arranged for the elevator to be leveled and fully repaired on Tuesday, July 10.

“A broken elevator in a two-story building is one thing, but asking seniors to climb six flights of stairs everyday for a month is a serious matter,” Klein said.

Kirsten Sanchez can be reach via e-mail at ksanchez@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 742-3394

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