Landlords use legal loopholes to postpone repairs

Third in a series about NYC's "worst landlords"

Posted

Martha Imbert has lived in her apartment for more than 20 years, and much of the time she and her fellow tenants have had to fight landlord Rich Luabsch over repairs and housing regulations.

Mr. Laubsch, who owns the building at 2709 Heath Ave., ranks number 92 on Public Advocate Letitia James’ list of 100 “worst landlord” in the city. He did not respond to a request for comment.  

Ms. Imbert said that she and her fellow tenants filed a lawsuit against Mr. Laubsch in 2014 over 346 violations he had run up with the city’s Housing Preservation and Development Department in just 37 units. 

She said that even though the court required him to make repairs, little to nothing has been fixed. 

“There are tenants here who have mold and leaks in the walls,” Ms. Imbert said, speaking in Spanish. “There is a line here with mold from the bottom floor of the building up to here, there is a tenant who actually got sick from it.”

The ceiling in her top-floor apartment has seen a series of leaks and holes, and her window needs a wooden plank to stay shut during the winter. 

“Someone on the first floor had something seeping into their apartment, I am not sure if it was from the septic tank or what,” she said. “We are afraid for the foundation of the building because the super said while he was fixing that, he saw the water coming from inside the foundation.”

Ms. Imbert said she has also seen a crack in the walls of her building, indicating even more potential problems with her building’s foundation. 

She said landlords like Mr. Laubsch often get away with neglecting to make sufficient repairs, by telling courts they have made repairs, even if they are not up to snuff. Tenants then have to refile complaints, which can take months to process, she said. 

A few blocks away, at 150 W. 197th St., sits another troubled building, owned by Adam Stryker, the 17th “worst landlord” on the list. Its tenants complain that problems are frequent, while repairs are not.  

Susa Barraza, who has lived there for nearly 25 years, was recently diagnosed with cancer and has to rely on a power scooter to get her to and from doctor’s appointments.  But the building’s elevator often breaks down, making it impossible for her to leave her fourth-floor apartment, she said.

“I had appointments all weekend and look, did you see the sign? The elevator is out,” she said. “We have a lot of days [when] the elevator does not work and I can’t climb up the stairs, I had surgery, I have eight types of cancer, I go to chemo, I have walk up and down the stairs.”

Ms. Barraza said getting in contact with Mr. Stryker is extremely difficult and often unfruitful. Mr. Stryker did not respond to a request for comment.

“I asked for a ramp and they told me no, that this building is not... accessible… I had to buy my own ramp, which cost me $300,” she said. 

“But they’re very fast to take you to court when you don’t want to pay the rent,” she said. 

 

Comments

4 comments on this story | Please log in to comment by clicking here
Please log in or register to add your comment
Avoiceofreason

The title of the article is "Landlords use legal loopholes to postpone repairs" but doesn't mention the legal loopholes the landlords are allegedly using???

Sunday, November 6, 2016 | Report this
CelticWoman

BX developer - I wish I could love your post a million times!

Wednesday, November 9, 2016 | Report this
Alegria123

How unfortunate to hear this is happening.

CelticWoman, and you know she doesn't speak English how...? People are allowed to speak whatever language they want and for all you know, this person is bilingual and chose to speak Spanish. Instead of making assumptions about what languages people speak, maybe you should worry about yourself and what you have going on.

Friday, November 11, 2016 | Report this
CelticWoman

@Alegria123 - No assumptions are being made on my end other than what the story states. I don't care what someone is comfortable speaking - this woman has lived in the US for more than 20 years. She should be able to communicate in English comfortably. If I lived in another country for 20+ years, rest assured I would be able to speak their language comfortably too. And I'm sure if she weren't speaking Spanish, you too would find an issue with this.

Come to America and learn the language of the Constitution and Declaration of Independence. They all know how to get their welfare programs - least they could do is learn the language of what our laws are based upon.

Monday, November 28, 2016 | Report this