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Tenants go on rent strike over building conditions

July 9, 2012 3:10:30 PM PDT
Marcos Lopez says the power goes out in his apartment many times a day.

"Sometimes it goes out 40 times, 40 times (day), every five minutes. Sometimes maybe more," Lopez said.

When it does, he can't use his inhaler for treatment of asthma. Outside his apartment he showed us where extension cords run between buildings just to power the hallway lights.

From electrical and heating problems to missing handrails to broken steps - even broken tiles and mailboxes - tenants in three buildings say enough is enough, and they are on rent strike.

Sara Lopez told us that she has been on a rent strike for about seven months. Lopez and a number of tenants took to the streets of Sunset Park voicing their growing frustration and their housing concerns to the office of New York State Assemblyman Felix Ortiz, who is working to help.

"I did call the landlord. The landlord never responded to my call," Ortiz said.

But he has been able to bring in city housing and preservation officials who have taken the landlord, identified as Petito Oracio by the tenants, to court over numerous violations in three adjacent buildings.

"He's been ordered by the court to take care of the violations. We will be doing re-inspections. If he has not taken care of the violations, we will pursue other enforcement mechanisms," Joseph Rosenberg, NYC Housing and Preservation Department, said.

They are hoping this time that the city can force the landlord to make the badly needed improvements. Hoping their loud message is now being heard by many.

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