Bronx Residents Sue Notorious Landlord, Demand Administrator be Appointed to Make Repairs
919 Prospect Named Worst Building in the Bronx on PA James’ 2016 Worst Landlords Watchlist
NEW YORK — Today, tenants, New York City Public Advocate Letitia James, Congressman José Serrano, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., Assemblymember Michael Blake, Council Member Rafael Salamanca, Banana Kelly Community Improvement Association Inc., and the Community Development Project of the Urban Justice Center announced that tenants of 919 Prospect Avenue will be suing their landlord for a court-appointed administrator to ensure all repairs are made.
The landlord of 919 Prospect Avenue, Seth Miller, was listed as the 36th worst landlord on Public Advocate James’ Worst Landlord Watchlist in 2016, and his building, 919 Prospect Ave, was also listed as the worst building in the Bronx. Mr. Miller has let this building deteriorate and the building has been in the City’s Housing Preservation and Development’s (HPD) Alternative Enforcement Program since 2013. Court-appointed 7-A administrators oversee repairs and bring buildings up to code working with residents throughout the process. The
tenants have partnered with Banana Kelly and the Urban Justice Center to help organize and file this lawsuit.
“We as tenants have been demanding repairs for years to management and the owner, Seth Miller, but we have been ignored,” said Caridad Maldinado, 919 Tenant Association Leader. “I believe we are due justice and have the right to live in a clean and safe environment. We are suing for a 7A Administrator because we believe Seth Miller is incapable of providing that.”
“No landlord should ever profit off of the maltreatment of tenants,” said Public Advocate Letitia James. “For too long this unscrupulous landlord has gotten away with forcing the tenants of 919 Prospect Avenue to live in dangerous and hazardous conditions, treatment that earned Seth Miller a top spot on my annual Worst Landlords Watchlist. This lawsuit should serve as a loud and clear message to any other bad actor in this City — we will use every tool at our disposal to hold you accountable.”
“The rampant abuses of the housing code by the landlord of 919 Prospect Avenue must end. Every resident in the Bronx deserves to live in a safe, clean, and healthy home, and I pledge to continue doing everything I can to protect my constituents from this type of abuse. I look forward to working with the residents of 919 Prospect Avenue to ensure the building returns to safe and healthy housing,” said Congressman José Serrano. “I applaud the efforts of Public Advocate Letitia James, Council Member Salamanca, along with support from our Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. to bring in the resources to wrest control from and put a stop to this slumlord. I also commend the legal work of Urban Justice Center, and the organizing work of Banana Kelly in working for justice in this case.”
“It’s disturbing to have residents living in unacceptable conditions like this. As we know, last week we had a devastating loss of two children in a cluster site,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. “This lawsuit is critical in the revitalization of this building. This is precisely why, Council Member Salamanca and myself are introducing legislation to remedy situations such as this once and for all. So that no family in the City of New York will ever be subject to such deplorable living conditions.”
“I fully support the legal action taken by the 919 Prospect Avenue Tenant Association, Banana Kelly Community Improvement Association Inc., New York City Public Advocate Letitia James, Council Member Salamanca and the Urban Justice Center because no Bronxite, no human being should live in the reprehensible conditions of 919 Prospect Ave. sustained by the unacceptable inaction of Landlord Seth Miller,” said Assemblymember Michael Blake. “These inhumane conditions include children inhaling toxic lead dust and mold, hallways covered in debris, and an elderly individual who has to travel up and down the stairs just to use a restroom. A home should be a place of love, relaxation and pride not lead, broken restrooms and rusty pipes. These incomplete construction projects, mold, lead and overall neglect create conditions that no one should accept or live in, and, we cannot allow this situation to continue. Seth Miller’s conduct and inaction are completely unacceptable. I fully support the transfer of this building to 7A administrative control and for Seth Miller to be held responsible for his neglect.”
“I toured this building not too long ago, and I was absolutely appalled by what I saw,” said Council Member Rafael Salamanca, Jr. “The conditions these tenants are living in are unsafe, and this landlord should be held accountable for his actions – 100%. It’s my hope that we can ensure he never owns or manages any building ever again.”
“As a Community Development Corporation focused on preserving housing and affordability, we know the right way to rehab a building,” said Harry DeRienzo, President, Banana Kelly Community Improvement Association Inc. “The only way to stop these abuses is by taking control away from the owner by court appointment of a 7-A Administrator while organizing residents.”
“Tenants brought this 7-A case because the Owner has engaged in a pattern and practice of illegal, dangerous, and harassing conduct, warranting his removal from control of the properly,” said Stephanie Rudolph, Staff Attorney, Community Development Project at the Urban Justice Center.” Among other actions and omissions, he has released toxic lead dust into the air, performed illegal construction, and ripped out tenants’ bathroom, leaving families with young children to resort to buckets. His conduct is heartbreaking, appalling, and must be stopped.”