The landlord of an Upper West Side building is being accused of taking pest control to a whole new level. Residents allege that building employees are spraying poisonous pesticides near the apartments of longtime rent-controlled tenants in an attempt to force them out.
“I believe they want to kill me. I have a bad breathing problem,” Helen Ball, a resident of Dexter House at 345 West 86th Street, complained last year to the state division of Homes and Community Renewal.
Ball has now moved, according to the New York Post. A current tenant told the Post that she caught a man spraying under her door at 2 a.m. Chemicals that are illegal for building employees to spray were found by inspectors in the building’s basement.
The building’s landlord, Jay Wartski, has a history of disputes with tenants. In 1984, the Village Voice called Wartski one of the city’s “most heartless” SRO landlords. He spent a month at Rikers Island around that time for refusing to repair hazardous conditions at an SRO he owned in Tribeca, according to the Post.
Wartski’s lawyer, Jeffrey Seiden, told the Post that there is “no validity” to the claims. “There has been no attempt to evict anybody through the use of illegal chemicals,” he said.
Meanwhile, Legal Aid Society lawyer Adan Soltren is trying to organize Dexter House tenants in a lawsuit. If true, he said that the use of pesticides to drive out tenants is one of “the more sinister kinds of tactics I’ve heard of.” [NYP] —Christopher Cameron