Tenants are withholding rent in an effort to compel their absentee management company to make needed repairs at a Crown Heights apartment building, which they say has been overrun with rats, roaches, dangerous mold and flooding.
Brooklyn Paper reports that tenants at 1392 Sterling Place staged a rent strike rally last week, the latest chapter in a battle that some residents have been waging for months.
Holes in Doila George’s kitchen ceiling leak from flooding rainwater and a jammed window won’t close, the tenant told the publication. In July, George wrote a letter to Iris Management, which handles maintenance at the pre-war building, threatening to withhold rent until repairs were made. She said she never heard back.
Tenants allege the basement flooded with sewage over the summer, causing the entire building to stink for weeks. Rats and roaches scampering through kitchens allegedly force residents to throw out their groceries “pretty much every day,” according to Yvette Stamp, who heads the building’s tenant association.
“Why are we living in such conditions? Nothing is being done about it,” George said.
Adding to the problem: No one seems to know who owns the building after the landlord passed away in January. It was around that time that Iris Management began failing to make repairs, the tenants allege.
The Department of Housing Preservation and Development has reportedly inspected the building, which does not have a live-in super, and mandated repairs, but those orders have gone unheeded.
Stamp told Brooklyn Paper that a handyman came by to make some repairs after the rent strike really. When her sister questioned the handyman about other repairs, however, the handyman allegedly threatened to “F her up,” forcing the sisters to file a police report.
“We get harassed, we get bullied, we get chastised about it,” Stamp said, adding that she hopes to ultimately get rid of Iris Management to get the building back on track.
It’s not the first time tenants in the 23-unit building have complained of deteriorating conditions. In 2019, the rent-stabilized tenants in the building, as well as three others, went to housing court seeking a court order to compel repairs and end alleged tenant harassment, according to the Brooklyn Eagle.
[Brooklyn Paper] — Holden Walter-Warner