Patricia Ramirez, 44, hasn't had gas or hot water in her East Village apartment since April 17th, when Con Edison discovered a "dangerous condition" in the basement of her building and issued a stop work order. The order came soon after Raphael Toledano of Goldmark Property Management took over her building, 444 East 13th Street, in March.
Ramirez and her neighbors allege that under the new management, they've endured just about every harassment tactic in the book. Many of them are Mexican immigrants, and have received empty threats of deportation.
Ramirez, who works as a house cleaner, has lived in her two-bedroom at 444 East 13th for 31 years. She told us this afternoon that in March, "The landlord asked me, 'Are you legal in this country?' I said 'Yes, why?' He said, 'Oh just checking.'" She says that she and her neighbors have been offered buyouts ranging from $30,000 to $60,000 to vacate.
Other alleged threats have been downright fantastic. "There are tape recorded conversations where the landlord is threatening to drop dynamite on the building and then let everyone 'figure it out themselves,'" Stephanie Rudolph, a staff attorney at the Urban Justice Center who is representing the tenants, told the Daily News.
Around 4 p.m. on Sunday, on her way home from church, Ramirez says she bumped into two delivery men standing outside of the building. "I saw these two delivery guys, and they said... we've got a delivery for the whole building."
Two days previous, Ramirez says, several of her neighbors had received bottles of wine from the management company. Now they were being showered with fruit. "When everybody opened the [fruit] gift, there was a note from the landlord," Ramirez said. "He blamed Con Edison [for the lack of gas]."
Here's the exact wording of the note (typos have been preserved):
We have done everything possible to have building services restored, ConEd did not consider the outrage and Emergency. We are waiting for them to restore service after inspection June 10. we are doing everything we can to speed them up. Please contact ConEd directly for a solution. please except.
"He tried to be nice," Ramirez said. "But I know where to get the wine and the fruit. If you want to give me a gift, give me back the gas and give me back the hot water."
This afternoon, the tenants won an injunction for Goldmark and Toledano to stop all harassment. A court date has been set for June 9th, at 111 Centre Street. The tenants are planning to hold a rally and press conference outside the court house that day.
Con Ed inspectors were scheduled to do a follow-up at 444 East 13th Street today, CBS2 reports. A representative for Goldmark did not immediately respond to a request for comment.