Saturday, August 25, 2012

Two Year Old Rent Strike Continues As Tenants Step Up Campaign To Draw Media Attention To Mold/Vermin Infested Apartment Buildings In Foreclosure

In Sunset Park, Brooklyn, The Village Voice reports:

  • Sunset Park residents engaged in a protracted rent strike packed into a Brooklyn courtroom this morning to find out the fate of their three apartment buildings.

    The rent strike actually began more than two years ago, when Sara Lopez and other tenants of three buildings, 553, 545, and 557 46th Street began organizing against their landlord, Orazio Petito. Tenants have stepped up their campaign in the past month, and with the help of members of Occupy Sunset Park have begun to draw media attention to their plight.

    Residents say they're furious over the neglect of the buildings, which are infested with mold and vermin, frequently go without heat in the winter and without any electricity in the summer. Department of Buildings records for the three buildings list dozens of violations, many of them severe, and hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines.

    Residents say Petito stores trash behind locked doors in the basement, and a recent CBS New York spot showed a desk fan being used to cool and antiquated and underpowered fuse-box.

    Petito, as head of 553 46 Street Corp., is listed as number 26 on Public Advocate Bill DiBlasio's Worst Landlord Watchlist.

    Petito is already being sued in housing court for code violations in two of the buildings, but this morning he appeared in civil court to begin foreclosure proceedings on the three buildings. The owner of the mortgage on the properties, Seryl LLC, has asked the court to take the property away from Petito and appoint a receiver.

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