NEW YORK — Tenants of a Harlem apartment building are refusing to pay their rent after they claimed the landlord has failed to make repairs or help them after .
Two people died in the fire. Now the tenants are taking legal action to make sure the necessary repairs get done.
Monday, CBS2’s Natalie Duddridge spoke with a heartbroken father who lost family members in the fire.
“I’m living, like, nightmare, unable to eat, I’m distraught, even unable to speak sometimes,” Papa Kante said.
Kante still wonders how he will carry on afterand in a fire in his home at 1833 Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard last November.
Kante was at work when it happened. Firefighters were able to rescue his 20-day-old son.
“Still wondering if all this is real,” Kante said. “For the past seven months, I have lived in the shelter. I want this management to help me for relocating.”
Tenants allege the landlord, Manhattan Holdings LLC, failed to follow fire safety regulations, did not have functioning smoke detectors and that doors did not close automatically.
The tenants allege it all contributed to the spread and severity of the fire.
“The building doesn’t even have no smoke alarm,” Kante said.
“They never heard a smoke alarm and were shouting through the windows at other tenants to hopefully wake them up,” said Oakland Davis, another tenant.
The building has a partial order to vacate. Ten units are considered uninhabitable. Those tenants say they have not heard from management, other than the landlord requesting rent.
Many tenants, like Davis, said they could not return to their heavily-damaged apartments and had to move to shelters.
“There’s just thousands and thousands of dollars of rent that continue to pile up,” Davis said.
Sheena Morrison, another tenant, said she was able to return to her unit, but the building itself is not livable.
“We are still waiting for the most basic of repairs. Today, we are announcing our lawsuit and attempt to rent strike against them,” Morrison said.
Tenants said they complained to 311 and local officials.
“My ceiling has a ton of water damage and leaks every time it rains,” Efrain Sarmiento said. “I’m also forced to walk up five flights of stairs since the elevator has been broken for the last couple months.”
“It smells like a fire. It hasn’t really subsided,” Morrison said.
There is a list of complaints and violations on the Department of Buildings website. We reached out to the landlord and have not heard back.
Residents said their last communication with management was in February when the landlord promised to file permits and begin construction.