Monday, February 1, 2016

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

An email from a tenant who left her ground floor apartment due to the infestation

We've received an email from former tenant who left her apartment on the ground floor. It gives us a better timeline of the infestation. Below is the full text the email:

"I moved into the apartment September 2014, then I noticed I got some random bites (maybe 4 above my chest and some on my stomach and back- I guess 8 total) literally right after Halloween. I went to the dermatologist  (#1) thinking it was a rash or so, it just wasn’t normal to just be bug bites. Thought it might’ve been my costume. My skin is already sensitive enough so I thought that it might’ve been an allergic reaction to one bite.

I cleaned my whole room and the apartment and didn’t see anything really until maybe early December, but just 2 bites. Then nothing for a bit then it started showing up mid February then nothing again until April. April was intense. I still have remnants of the bites. It takes forever to heal. I did everything, went to about 4 different dermos, got a biopsy. They were definitely bites.

I really hope everyone just leaves that place – Ive been bug bites free for 2 months now and I never realized how much stress it had been causing me. Everyone thought I was crazy but it drove me mad trying to figure out what was biting me at night."


Sunday, June 28, 2015

157 Open HPD-Issued Housing and Maintenance Code Violations at 114 E.1st Street

As of today, there are 157 open housing and maintenance code violations issued by HPD to the landlord of 114 E.1st Street.

Of these 157 violations, 18 are "Class C" violations defined as "immediately hazardous” and 111 violations are "Class B" defined as "hazardous."  These violations include 4 for bed bugs and 1 for rats.  To date, none of these violations have been certified by HPD as repaired.

With 129 open Class B and C violations and 33 units registered in the building, the landlord of 114 E.1st Street meets the qualifications for the Worst Landlords Watch List compiled by the Public Advocate for the City of New York, Letitia James.  "For a landlord to be added to the Watch List, they must own a building with fewer than 35 units with an average of at least three open, serious violations (B and C violations) per unit." (http://advocate.nyc.gov/landlord-watchlist/criteria)

For a complete list of open violations at 114 E.1st Street, go to the link below, type in housing number "114" and street "east 1 street"; on the next screen, click "All Open Violations" on the left side.  https://hpdonline.hpdnyc.org/HPDonline/provide_address.aspx

More infested debris on the first floor hallway and on the fire egress today.



Now the infested furniture is being hidden in the empty ground floor apartment (#2).


Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Decomposing rodents in the walls bring more insects inside the apartments

Several tenants have now observed a sudden explosion of black flies in their apartments. The apartments have many holes and cracks that allow the maggots and other insects feeding on the rotting rodent flesh between the walls to enter our living spaces. Let us know if you also have large number of black flies in your space.

Monday, June 15, 2015

125 Open HPD-Issued Housing and Maintenance Code Violations at 114 E.1st Street

As of this morning, there are 126 open housing and maintenance code violations issued by HPD to the landlord of 114 E.1st Street.

Of these 125 violations, 17 are "Class C" violations defined as "immediately hazardous” and 91 violations are "Class B" defined as "hazardous."  These violations include 3 for bed bugs and 1 for rats.  To date, none of these violations have been certified by HPD as repaired.

With 108 open Class B and C violations and 33 units registered in the building, the landlord of 114 E.1st Street meets the qualifications for the Worst Landlords Watch List compiled by the Public Advocate for the City of New York, Letitia James.  "For a landlord to be added to the Watch List, they must own a building with fewer than 35 units with an average of at least three open, serious violations (B and C violations) per unit." (http://advocate.nyc.gov/landlord-watchlist/criteria)

For a complete list of open violations at 114 E.1st Street, go to the link below, type in housing number "114" and street "east 1 street"; on the next screen, click "All Open Violations" on the left side.  https://hpdonline.hpdnyc.org/HPDonline/provide_address.aspx

PIGEONS

Pigeons have taken over the shaft way. Their feces cover the entire side of the building, air conditioners as well as our window sills. The smell is horrific and the dust is a health hazard. I cannot open my windows.
See below:
Pest control experts and public health specialists warn that there are dozens of different human pathogens associated with pigeons, including some that can be dangerous or even deadly. Many experts feel that pigeons are a significant health risk to people.
Do Pigeons cause diseases?
Pigeon droppings are not only unsightly; their acid content can eat into soft stone and cause long-term damage to buildings. The nest droppings, and feathers also block gutters and rainwater pipes causing water damage. Their droppings can lead to severe hazards on pavements, especially for the elderly, and can carry pathogenic organisms. Pigeons can carry a number of potentially infectious diseases such as salmonella, tuberculosis and ornithosis (a mild form of psittacosis - pneumonia-like symptoms). They are also a source of allergens, which can cause respiratory ailments like pigeon fancier's lung and allergic skin reaction. There is potential for these illnesses to be spread to people through contact with pigeon droppings, dandruff and feathers; pigeon parasites; or where dead infected pigeons get into food or water sources.

Besides being direct carriers of disease, nuisance birds are frequently associated with over 50 kinds of ectoparasites, which can work their way throughout structures to infest and bite humans. Bed bugs (Cimex lectularius) may consume up to five times their own weight in blood drawn from hosts which include humans and some domestic animals. In any extreme condition, victims may become weak and anemic. Pigeons, starlings and house sparrows are known to carry bed bugs

Salmonellosis often occurs as "food poisoning" and can be traced to pigeons, starlings and sparrows. The disease bacteria are found in bird droppings; dust from droppings can be sucked through ventilators and air conditioners, contaminating food and cooking surfaces in restaurants, homes and food processing plants.

 Histoplasmosis is a respiratory disease that may be fatal. It results from a fungus growing in dried bird droppings. Candidiasis is a yeast or fungus infection spread by pigeons. The disease affects the skin, the mouth, the respiratory system, the intestines and the urogenital tract, especially the vagina. It is a growing problem for women, causing itching, pain and discharge. Cryptococcosis is caused by yeast found in the intestinal tract of pigeons and starlings. The illness often begins as a pulmonary disease and may later affect the central nervous system. Since attics, cupolas, ledges, schools, offices, warehouses, mills, barns, park buildings, signs, etc. are typical roosting and nesting sites, the fungus is apt to found in these areas.

These are just a few.
Pigeon-related Complaints
You can call 311 to report unsanitary conditions caused by pigeons, including odor and excessive droppings on window ledges, sidewalks and exteriors of commercial and residential properties. Property owners are required to clean up pigeon droppings on or originating from their property. You must provide the name and full address of the property owner for the City to take action. 

Monday, June 8, 2015

Letter to Tenants (June 6, 2015)

RE: Ongoing Bed Bug, Rat, and Rat Mite Infestation

Dear Fellow Tenants,

We write to you out of concern for your safety and our community due to the bed bug, rat, and rat mite infestation in the building.  To our knowledge, at least 13 apartments in the building have been infested with either bed bugs, rats, or rat mites in the last month.  As of this morning, our building has 101 open housing and maintenance code violations issued by NYC’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD)—including bed bugs and rats.  Of these 101 violations, HPD deems 13 to be “immediately hazardous” and 72 to be “hazardous.”  Many tenants have already vacated the building as a result of the insufferable infestations in their apartments and a lack of urgent response from Birchwood Properties.  Birchwood Properties has already begun renting the apartments vacated due to the infestation to unsuspecting new tenants.

While Birchwood Properties wrote in their letter dated June 2, 2015 that they “have engaged Select Exterminating,” their approach has not been adequate to eradicate the bug infestation.  The extermination process has proceeded in a piecemeal way, spraying apartments here and there with pesticide; this method simply pushes the bugs to other apartments and spreads the bug infestation.  We believe it will require a building-wide fumigation to eradicate the bugs and keep everyone safe.

Furthermore, Birchwood Properties wrote in their letter dated June 2, 2015 that “we have had no complaints from the building of insect bites since last Friday.”  Publicly available information from HPD shows this statement to be false:  (1) 311 complaints were reported to the city for pests on June 1 and June 5 in different apartments, and (2) 4 housing and maintenance code violations, 3 for bed bugs and 1 for rats, issued by HPD on May 23 and 24, 2015 have yet to be certified by HPD as repaired by Birchwood Properties.  Details on the points above can be found by following the instructions below.

For a complete list of open violations and 311 complaints at 114 E.1st Street, go to the link below, click “Manhattan” in the dropdown menu for boro, type in housing number "114" and street "east 1 street"; on the next screen, click "All Open Violations" or “Complaint History” on the left side. https://hpdonline.hpdnyc.org/HPDonline/provide_address.aspx

Please email
114eastfirst@gmail.com and go to http://114eastfirst.blogspot.com/ to receive regular updates on the situation.  Please continue to notify both 311 and Birchwood Properties of any pest issues you experience.  We need your help to keep our community safe.

Thank you very much for your continued support, and be well.

Warmest regards,

Tenant Coalition for 114 E.1st Street

Thursday, June 4, 2015

101 Open HPD-Issued Housing and Maintenance Code Violations at 114 E.1st Street

NYC's Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) conducted an inspection of 114 E.1st Street on May 23 and 24, 2015.  They issued 77 new Housing and Maintenance Code violations to the landlord, for a total of 101 open violations as of this morning.

Of these 101, 13 are "Class C" violations defined as "immediately hazardous," and landlords have only 24 hours to correct these issues.  72 violations are "Class B" defined as "hazardous," and landlords have 30 days to correct these issues.  These violations include 3 for bed bugs and 1 for rats.  To date, none of these violations have been certified by HPD as repaired.

With 85 active Class B and C violations and 30 apartments in the building, the landlord of 114 E.1st Street is 5 hazardous violations short of qualifying for the Worst Landlords Watch List compiled by the Public Advocate for the City of New York, Letitia James.  "For a landlord to be added to the Watch List, they must own a building with fewer than 35 units with an average of at least three open, serious violations (B and C violations) per unit." (http://advocate.nyc.gov/landlord-watchlist/criteria)


For a complete list of open violations at 114 E.1st Street, go to the link below, type in housing number "114" and street "east 1 street"; on the next screen, click "All Open Violations" on the left side.  https://hpdonline.hpdnyc.org/HPDonline/provide_address.aspx

To learn more about your rights as a tenant, please email 114eastfirst@gmail.com or read http://www1.nyc.gov/assets/hpd/downloads/pdf/ABCs-housing-singlepg.pdf .

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Monday, June 1, 2015

Rat mite infestation is on five floors!

Even though the rat infestation has gone on for years and the rat mite infestation has been the issue in the building for months now, the landlord, Robert Spitalnick still has not notified all tenants about the rat mite and bed bug problem and have not presented us with a comprehensive treatment for the entire building. Five floors are now affected, mostly on the North side of the building. Random exterminations of several apartments make the situation worse as the insects move into the walls and then to other units. No entry point sealing has been done! As a result several tenants have packed their belongings and left the building. This ongoing cover-up and unprofessional approach is harmful to all us still staying in the building!

and more discarded furniture on the ground floor
and this is trash from our building on the sidewalk in front of 108 East 1st Street today.

vacating 114 e 1st (#13)

We will be ending our time at 114 e 1st by the end of the month (#13). The main issue in the recent months has been the severe rodent infestation in the building. Last weekend there was a rat that was discovered underneath our sink, chewing a hole so that it could enter the apartment. I called and emailed both the property company and super agency. I was not responded to and no one showed up to help with the issue until over 24hrs later. The rodent issue was not genuinely addressed, and they only patched the hole the rat was chewing. We can still hear them digging in the ceiling. It is an unacceptable living situation for our family and we do not intend to stay any longer than we have to.

GOING TO HELL

I have been a tenant at 114 East First Street for well over 20 years. I feel that I can safely say with great certainty that the building/tenants are on a descent to HELL!!
The apartment building has been infested with rats for years - getting worse with all of the construction going on around us. The rats are so brazen that they are out and waiting to greet you at the garbage bins. The designated garbage area is severly neglected, filthy, and dangerous. It is not maintained and the garbage accumulates for days.
Debris, garbage, unwrapped mattresses are left under the stairwell for months. Not only is this a fire hazard - it is also a very large contributor to the RAT MITE and BED BUG infestation in the building. I wake up (as do other tenants) everday covered in bites and there is no end in sight. The landlord is unresponsive, threatening, and unwilling to deal with the situation in a professional or legal manner. 
.We do not have an on premise superintendent
.We have no porter - the hallways have not been swept or washed in years
.Repairs are not made in the open areas and outside of the building - broken steps, broken windows, front door lock, etc. 
. The contractor's that do the repair work in the building - are they licensed - are they insured?
.The exterminating company -  are they licensed - are they insured? The tenants have no idea what chemicals are being used.
.We have lead paint and there are children living in the building
THERE IS POWER IN NUMBERS! 
PLEASE EMAIL/CONTACT THE AGENCIES LISTED BELOW:

To address your service issues, you may file a complaint with DHCR.  RA-81Application For A Rent Reduction Based Upon Decreased Service(s) - Individual Apartment found at the link below:


And/or RA-84Application For A Rent Reduction Based Upon Decreased Building-Wide Service(s):


To file the RA-84 jointly with other tenants, complete RA-84.1 and include it with your filing:


To address emergency and individual apartment service issues, you may file a complaint with DHCR online. The link below will direct you to this online complaint form:


Please review the “Application Instructions” before filing.

DHCR has the authority to issue an order that: 1) directs the owner to make repairs; 2) may reduce the rent by a guidelines adjustment and; 3) bars an owner from collecting additional rent increases until such owner files for, and is issued, a rent restoration order by DHCR.

If there are emergency repairs required, you may bring an action in Landlord/Tenant court to compel the owner to meet his obligations.  The action is called a Housing Part Action (a/k/a and "HP Action").  You can find out more by calling the NY City Civil Court Information Line at 212-791-6000.  Furthermore, you may also contact the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) by dialing "311" to lodge a complaint.

For more information, click the links below to review DHCR Fact Sheets #14 and #37, which discuss Rent Reductions for Decreased Services and “De-Minimis Conditions” respectively.






Sunday, May 31, 2015

Leaving 114 East 1st Street (#7)

We had to vacate our apartment this past Friday, as the pests made it uninhabitable. We had garbage-bagged all of our belongings, set multiple bed bug traps (including two simple CO2 passive monitors), spread diatomaceous earth around the perimeter of the bedroom and in plastic cups under each bed leg, called 311, etc. to no avail. I have literally over 100 insect bites all over my body that are extremely itchy and uncomfortable. We have found many rodent mites crawling all over our bodies after sitting on the couch or lying on the bed for just a few minutes - thankfully, there has been no sign of bed bugs yet. Needless to say, I am no longer comfortable staying in the apartment.

On Friday, an exterminator sprayed our apartment with an unspecified chemical - but did not address the underlying issue of the ongoing rodent infestation. After enduring four sleepless nights (and consequently having much reduced productivity during the day), we decided that we had had enough and have left 114 E. 1st St.

More trash in the hallway underneath the stairs and the fire egress is blocked by the rotting garbage. The stench is insufferable!

Several tenants have decided to leave the building.



Friday, May 29, 2015

Deepening crisis at 114 East 1st Street

Today random extermination of several apartments have been performed in the building without addressing the infestation building-wide. No entry point for the insects have been sealed in the apartments before. The exterminator refused to give us any information on what pesticide will be used and for which insect they are treating the selective apartments. I've been threatened with denial of services for asking questions. Separately, we've been told by independently consulted professionals that entry points need to be sealed before spraying pesticides and that randomly spraying individual apartments is going to push the bugs to other units and make the problem significantly worse.

Here is some information about rat mites: http://citybugs.tamu.edu/factsheets/biting-stinging/others/ent-3009/

The infestation is building-wide!

We have both: bed bug and rat mite infestations in the building. The landlord still claims that it is an isolated problem related to a single apartment. So far we have identified 9 apartments where tenants developed severe rashes. In one case a rat mite was caught in another a bed bug. We are still waiting for more inspections. Unless the entire building is treated the problem will persist. Unless we take an unified action insuring that we have a licensed, certified and insured exterminator, our apartments will become unlivable and our all our belongings will be contaminated. As far as we understand the issue the infestation may have spread throughout the building as a result of a perpetual concealment of the problem and an irresponsible extermination in a single apartment. Do not be bullied by the super asking you not to call 311 or talk to other tenants. This is our only guarantee that we will receive adequate help. Send an email to 114eastfirst@gmail.com to receive additional information about the tenant action.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

More trash in hallways, the building is filthy and it reeks of decay

The rotten bed frame and the filthy mattress are still here as well. The rat colony is thriving. No sign of the management.