Residents of a Section 8 apartment building in Bed Stuy have lived without heat for at least 17 years, DNAinfo reported. Shinda Management Corp. took over management of 305 Decatur Street in 2005 but has neglected to fix the problem. The company also locked laundry and public rooms, citing “drug activity.”

“For me to have a decent place to live, warm, secure,” Collette Wright, 55, told DNAinfo. “That’s a basic human right, and Shinda deprived me of that right over and over.”

Wright, a tenant activist who’s lived in the building since 1996, says she had to fight to get baseboard heating installed in her apartment in August. This is the first winter she’ll have heat since moving in.

Heating and new boilers were supposed to be installed in 2008, but it never happened. Several other residents of 305 Decatur say Shinda had promised their heating would be installed, but still don’t have any kind of heating system.

The building is located in Stuyvesant Heights and dates from the 1890s. It was a Building of the Day in February.

“You dread every winter,” Wright said. “Have you ever been so cold that you’re under your covers and you feel the cold on your eyeballs?”

Bed-Stuy Building Has No Heat for At Least 17 Years, Residents Say [DNAinfo]
Building of the Day: 305 Decatur Street [Brownstoner]

Photo by Christopher Bride for PropertyShark

Over on the Red Hook Waterfront blog, Gregory O’Connell Jr. has a post about the scourge of bed bugs from a landlord’s point of view. His point is that while landlords are often/usually/always blamed for infestations, tenant responsibility is typically overlooked. Here’s a snippet: “In 2009, New York City adopted Local Law 14, which created a “Bed Bug Advisory Board” to guide the city in addressing bed bug infestations. This advisory board made “Recommendations for the Management of Bed Bugs in New York City” [PDF] in April of 2010. Please feel free to view this file. The recommendations made throughout seem logical and if implemented would, dare I say, improve this situation which has rendered LANDLORDS defenseless against “Bed Bug” outbreaks within their buildings. …The issues that need to be taken seriously by those with control over the regulation of “Bed Bug” matters are…. what happens when the TENANT is negligent? What happens when the TENANT is uncooperative and does not allow the LANDLORD to properly expedite the issue and treat the problem? What happens if the TENANT never notifies the LANDLORD of the infestation? What if the TENANT does not follow proper procedure in order to remove the infestation? At what point does the LANDLORD stop assuming responsibility? If “Bed Bugs” can infest any area and travel over extreme distances on someone’s person, why is it automatically the LANDLORD’s fault that they exist in that LANDLORD’s building? How can a LANDLORD basically force a TENANT to live a certain way/notify/allow access/throw things out etc. etc. without any sort of consequence or defense?” Any readers who are also landlords care to weigh in?
The “War on Bedbugs”: From the Landlord’s Perspective [Red Hook Waterfront]
Photo by Shira Golding

fgardens_151009.jpgTenants at the 59-building, rent-stabalized, East Flatbush housing complex called Flatbush Gardens (previously Vanderveer Estates) claim that the owner, Clipper Equity, is neglecting repairs in order to drive out tenants and drive up rents. “You call, but they never come to fix anything,” one tenant of 25 years told the Daily News. Needed repairs include flooring in disrepair and exposed or non-functioning outlets. Tenants also claim that Clipper began charging $30 air-conditioner fees as part of its intimidation tactics, and raised rents in stabalized apartments beyond what is legally permissible. The owners will renovate an apartment as soon as tenants vacate, tenants say, but ignore maintenance requests for occupied units. Finally, the tenants point to television and subway ads for the complex as more evidence that the owners are trying to attract new money. A Clipper spokesperson said that the owner works through all maintenance requests, and highlights $10 million in upgrades such as new elevators, intercom systems, and playgrounds. Tenants say these are simply cosmetic upgrades, and a lawyer representing them told the News, “It’s clear the landlord wants to bring in new business.” GMAP P*Shark
Landlords Letting Flatbush Gardens Rot to Flush Us Out [Daily News]
Rent Wars: Flatbush Gardens Achieves Stuy Town Dream [Curbed]
Image by Nicholas Strini/PropertyShark

Given the time of year, we thought it would be helpful to have some advice about your boiler from someone who knows what he’s talking about, Jon Cataneo of Gateway Plumbing.

Heating season is here. Many homeowners are thinking about upgrading or replacing their old heating boilers and don’t have a clue what to look for. Incentives are being offered to consider a conversion from fuel oil to natural gas and large rebates are available for efficiency upgrades. Here’s a quick primer that may help to sort through some of the products you’re likely to find in our area.

When it comes to boilers, you’ve got several choices.

Hot water boilers come in all ranges of efficiency these days from the standard 80% like these common makes and models:
• Burnham Series 2
• Weil-McLain CGa
• Peerless 63

All the way up to a very high 95% (and sometimes even higher):
• Triangle Tube Prestige
• Burnham Alpine
• Weil-McLain Ultra

In most cases, boilers starting in the mid-efficiency range of 84%-88%… (more…)

Anticipation of the Nor’easter which began yesterday morning gave us uneasy flashbacks to the biblical floods of October 2005. A month after moving into our newly renovated house, we learned the hard way that the original waste line (which was made of out clay pipe back in the day) had basically disintegrated. When the pounding rains came that fall, the rain collected on the roof, ran down the drain pipe (which fed into the waste line, we learned) and smacked into the pile of earth that our century-old pipe had become. With no place else to go, the water surged up to the first point of release–the tenant’s tub and toilet. We ended up having two episodes of major flooding in the apartment. Amazingly, there was only a couple of thousand dollars of damage and the parquet floors emerged unwarped. Still, to say it was a traumatic experience would be an understatement.

So we felt some sympathy for the poor Park Sloper whose clogged drain pipe (above) caused his basement to flood. There have also been some three posts (count ’em one, two, three) on the Forum so far; if you have any experience in these matters, please take a moment to lend your advice. We’d also be interested in hearing other stories of rain damage from the last 24 hours. Watcha got?
The Great Flood of Aught Seven [Flickr]

75 Henry Street is the 370-unit, 33-story tower you see as you come off the ramp from the Brooklyn Bridge. From the looks of this photo put up on Flickr this weekend, the building is getting caught up on some repairs. We’ve always wondered about this place: For some reason it looks like a building that was built in the Sixties as subsidized middle-income housing, but from the looks of recent sales prices (an apartment on the 21st floor sold for over a million bucks last February), that would appear not to be the case. So what’s the deal on it? GMAP

street dig
We got an email asking us if we knew what all the construction on Fulton Street in Clinton Hill was about. We didn’t, so we did some hard-hitting reporting on our way to work yesterday. According to one of the workers who was on a coffee break, they are now removing the old trolley tracks that run down the middle of the street; then they are going to lay a bunch of new water and sewer pipes under the road.

The scene above looks like our kitchen for the past two weeks. After having not seen a mouse all summer, one day, they were just there. And not just one or two, but a lot. On Saturday afternoon, Mrs. B walked in to the kitchen, and three of them were having a powwow on the counter. As yesterday’s article in The Times points out, the common house mouse “weighs about an ounce, has a two-inch-long body and can slip through a hole just a little bit bigger than a pencil.” So the biggest preventative measure you can take is to seal up as many holes as possible. We had someone come in last winter and spray a hard foam-like substance around (steel wool is another DIY option) but in a house like ours, there’s really no way to cover all your bases. Traps and poison are the two standard remedies; if you’re going with the former, the article recommends, you gotta go all out: If you’re not starting with a dozen traps, you’re not serious about catching mice, said one expert. As for bait, forget about cheese and go with peanut butter.
When Mice Move in to Spend the Winter [NY Times]
Photo by viralbus

boiler room
The heating season is right around the corner. The time is now to finish those insulation projects you started and seal or replace drafty windows and door frames. Cool weather comes quickly and unexpectedly so know how to start your boiler and learn the warning signs of potential problems with a quick visual inspection that you can do at any time.

Raise a heating thermostat and go to the boiler. Take a look at the floor around it. Is there any moisture on the ground? If so, try to determine if it is from water or oil. Most oil line repairs should be done by your supplier’s service technicians and the system should be fired and bled, as necessary, after the repair is made. Water leaks are often best handled by a qualified plumbing or plumbing and heating company and your oil or gas supplier may require you to call one of your choosing, so long as they are properly licensed. (more…)