[Generic mold photo from the Internet]
From the EVG reader mailbag ... a rather complicated question:
I've been in my rent-stabilized apartment for about 15 years now. The first day of move-in I became immediately and seriously ill with flu-like symptoms. I was diagnosed with asthma, which I never had before.
In the first or second winter (I cannot remember) we realized that there was a serious roof leak that led directly to our bedroom ceiling. Anytime snow melted on the roof, we'd get the leak.
By 2005, it was sort of "fixed" but again, whenever the show or rains were serious, we'd get the leak.
A few years ago, while making the bed, I leaned my hand against the wall where the leak was. It collapsed into a hole about the size of a human head. I covered it immediately with duct tape, in several layers, because the smell of mold was so bad.
I've told my landlord about the problem in writing several times as well as over the phone. He refuses to fix it or even look at it. Neither he nor the super will help me.
Because I am constantly behind in rent (I've not been fully employed as an editor since 2010), I have not pursued the matter. While I'm currently making some strides in paying back rent thanks to eBay, I'm always in the hole for at least $2K...and I'm running out of stuff to sell.
I'm broke. I have no money or resources to move. I went through my 401(k) and savings paying for rent years ago. No health insurance now. No social services of any kind ... and no family to help.
What can someone like me do? I have no legal representation. I'm afraid that the expense of a gut renovation in this unit will force the rent beyond the current $1,630. I cannot afford a penny more. What I'd love would be to go to court and seek an abatement for the use of my bedroom for the past however many years and apply that money to the money owed as well as removal of the mold (or cleaning) and new sheetrock.
Currently, I'm thinking of moving the bedroom into the living room and closing off the bedroom and then calling the inspector. Is this the best solution to both solve the problem while keeping me in my home? I really have no other place to go.
So… what might be the most careful course of action to take if you need serious and potentially costly repairs (permanently fixed leak, mold removal and cleaning, new sheet rock) in a rent-stabilzed place where the leaseholder account is in arrears and you fear being evicted?
We often get reader queries ... asking for help with, say, donating clothes or books ... or finding an East Village-based caterer... If you have a question for the masses, then try the EV Grieve email...
Previously on EV Grieve:
Reader mailbag: Places to eat that have that old East Village vibe (45 comments)
Reader mailbag: What do I do about my new neighbors who smoke pot all the time? (52 comments)
Reader mailbag: Where is a good place to get a cup of coffee in the East Village before 6 a.m.? (25 comments)
Reader mailbag: What has happened to the Cooper Station Post Office? (41 comments)
Reader mailbag: Can the landlord 'drill' the lock to gain access to my apartment for simple repairs? (15 comments)
Reader mailbag: Should we receive a rent abatement for having sporadic heat and hot water?
Reader mailbag: How often does your mail get delivered?
Reader mailbag: Where can I get my Mac fixed now?