New York Daily News
Renters rat-chet up fight
Protest rodents & ‘slum’ conditions on UWS
RESIDENTS of two Upper West Side buildings reaffirmed the rent strike they waged more than a month ago following a heated protest Monday outside their rat-infested homes.
Chanting “No rent for rats,” dozens of residents at 207 and 209 W. 107th St. and other buildings called for an end to a rodent problem they say has reached epidemic proportions.
“This is a classic slumlord situation,” said Sen. Bill Perkins, who joined tenants Monday to protest the poor conditions and called for the city to step in. “This is one of the worst situations I’ve seen in a long time.”
Some residents claim the rodents storm their block on a nightly basis, while another longtime tenant said mice long ago made a nest in his oven that they refuse to vacate.
As for the garbage bins, fuhgeddaboudit.
“The rats have a party downstairs,” said Luz Pacheco, 58, adding that at about 10 p.m. each night, dozens of rats run across the building steps and near where the trash sits.
Diego Remuzgo, 41, has withheld the monthly $1,200 rent on his three-bedroom apartment since June 1, claiming the buildings’ landlord, GPS Realty, has failed to exterminate the rodents, which began to appear en masse in January.
“We went on rent strike,” said Remuzgo, who said the rat problems on the sidewalk are so bad that tenants choose to walk in the street. “It’s about the discrimination, and on top of that the rats. You can’t even walk on the sidewalk.”
Gerardo Guzman, who has lived in his three-bedroom apartment with his wife and three children since 1990, said he’s seen rats living inside the building’s basement handrails.
“We are tired of how we are living,” said Guzman, 47, who has also been withholding $1,381 in monthly rent since June 1.
GPS Realty did not respond to requests for comment, but has denied allegations related to bully tactics that have included checking tenants’ immigration status and surprise visits.
Local elected officials called on state and federal agencies in April to investigate the allegations.
Residents said city officials have visited the properties recently, and the building’s management has begun to make some improvements. They credit the change in attitude to a recent court order demanding that GPS Realty make repairs.
Meanwhile, Perkins formed a steering committee among tenants at the two buildings and others within a four-block radius on Monday to tackle the rodent problem. They expect to convene their first meeting Thursday night.