Tenant’s lawsuit: “Roaches swarmed my bagel!”

Attorney Mark Bongiovanni seeks $120,000 in damages and court fees

TRD New York /
Sep.September 17, 2019 10:40 AM
261 Broome Street (Credit: iStock and Google Maps)

261 Broome Street (Credit: iStock and Google Maps)

Renting an apartment in New York City isn’t for the squeamish.

A tenant’s lawsuit alleges that she had to move out of her Lower East Side apartment in June after just four days because roaches swarmed her bagel and there was vomit on the fire escape, among other problems. The property, at 261 Broome Street, is owned by Om Dhiman, according to city records.

The attorney representing the tenant, Mark Bongiovanni of Leary, Bride Mergner and Bongiovanni, P.A., is seeking $120,000 in damages and court fees from building managers Raj Dhiman and OK Management, Universal Realty, 259 Broome LLC and Universal Realty managing agent Jason Pilku.

Julia Perry’s lawsuit says on a “dark and stormy day,” when she first saw the apartment that became her living nightmare, she was reassured by Universal Management broker Jason Pilku that the unit would receive natural light. Still, she negotiated the rent down to $2,700 from $2,775 — a bargain in Manhattan, where the median rent hit $3,500 earlier this month.

But Perry’s hopes for a cheery and light-filled home were dashed when she moved in and realized the “windows were filthy” and Pilku’s promises of habitability would ring “hollow.” Perry spent just four days in the seven-story building, built in 1920 and recently renovated, according to a listing on StreetEasy. The ads also boasts high ceilings, hardwood floors and a renovated bathroom in the “gorgeous” apartment.

But the roach infestation was so severe, according to the lawsuit filed in New York Supreme Court, that the dastardly bugs were present even in the refrigerator, where they “swarmed Julia’s bagel.” There was also vomit on the fire escape, feces in the toilet, a broken towel rack and makeup and toothbrushes strewn about when Perry moved in, the suit alleges.

The lawsuit alleges that all three of the unit’s locks were broken, but when the building super finally came to make repairs he was drunk and “unable to help.” Another contractor tried without success to fix the broken locks and remarked that the landlord had known about the “stripped and unusable locks” for weeks, the suit charges.

Somehow the broken locks were able to keep city inspectors from gaining access to the apartment. The lawsuit says the Department of Housing Preservation and Development was unable to get in to investigate Perry’s complaints about roaches and “other uninhabitable conditions.”

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