Surprise inspections have residents on edge

By Sabina Mollot

Residents who’ve recently called for plumbing work have been getting more than just their sinks checked.

According to one family in Stuyvesant Town, an appointment last week to have a drain snaked turned into a surprise apartment inspection when the maintenance worker assigned to the job also opened closed bedroom doors and asked the residents questions about their counter tops and appliances.

A resident of the apartment at 280 First Avenue, who asked that his name not be published, said the employee also frightened his adult daughter, who was in her room when he opened the door — without knocking. While the father was in another room, he said the worker breezed into his daughter’s room, telling her he was looking for air conditioners.

After the dad confronted him, the workers was “very apologetic,” saying management was making him to do it.

The employee also produced paperwork showing notes he’d taken at other apartments he’d been working in, and that he was supposed to ask if people had air conditioners.

The employee then asked if the family had a dishwasher and also asked about the countertop in the kitchen, which is when the resident said he told the worker to cut the questioning. The resident said that again the employee was very apologetic and left soon afterwards.

Meanwhile, the tenant noted, his unrenovated apartment had already been inspected by management months earlier, which is why the latest round of questioning seemed strange. “We let them look at everything. No doors were shut,” he said. “There was no reason for them to re-inspect the apartment.”

Apartment inspections began in Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village last May. At that time, CWCapital said the purpose was to ensure compliance with building code, lease terms and community rules.

“Inspectors will be looking for issues such as unsafe conditions, unregistered dogs and compliance with the 80 percent carpet rule,” CW spokesperson Brian Moriarty had said. “Any unit that is out of compliance will be given a notice to correct whatever issues are found.”

When asked about the recent surprise inspection, Moriarty told Town & Village it had to do with appliances and fixtures.

“Maintenance staff responding to service calls will sometimes survey a residence in order to update our records of appliances and fixtures in the unit,” he said. “Having this information allows us to be better prepared with the correct parts the next time there is a maintenance request.”

Following the impromptu inspection last Tuesday, the resident’s wife wrote about the incident on the Tenants Association’s Facebook page. In response, two neighbors said they had similar experiences recently.

One of the residents noted her apartment had already been inspected, “so I don’t know what he is really looking for,” she said, although the maintenance worker had asked about air conditioners.

Another neighbor, however, said he wasn’t disturbed by the experience because the worker was nice and asked his permission before inspecting the place. He’d asked about brands of appliances and if there were any air conditioners.

Last year, the ST-PCV Tenants Association expressed concern about apartment inspections, after hearing about several cases of unauthorized entry. In at least two cases, the TA had complaints from tenants that inspections were conducted while they weren’t home at times that were not agreed upon. Residents in some cases were told the inspections were for pressurized walls.

On the inspections by maintenance workers, Susan Steinberg, chair of the Tenants Association, said she’d heard a rumor about surprise inspections several months ago, but didn’t know if it was really happening.

She also said it brought up memories of how Met Life once attempted to oust rent-stabilized tenants who owned pets by offering a $150 gift card bounty to maintenance employees who’d agree to rat them out.

“It was unfortunate then and unfortunate now,” said Steinberg. “Tenants should not have to live in an atmosphere of fear that granting access to their apartments for the fix of a slow drain turns into an opportunity for a sneak inspection.

“This becomes yet another situation in which tenants, suspicious of the owner’s motivations, will feel it necessary to be home anytime they have a service appointment rather than granting management access, greatly inconveniencing those who work.

“I encourage tenants who get surprised in this manner to let the Tenants Association know.”

13 thoughts on “Surprise inspections have residents on edge

  1. “I encourage tenants who get surprised in this manner to let the Tenants Association know.”

    Of course the TA won’t do anything about it but let them know anyway. The board doesn’t want to disturb management and hurt their chances of buying their apartments so they can hold them and then sell for a perceived fortune. Thus the reason they haven’t done much to stop the ruination of this once iconic neighborhood. The current version of the TA has been anything but a Tenants Association. They should step aside and be true to their vision of condo ownership while allowing real RS tenants to fight for RS instead of blindly following Dan Garodnick and his law firm partners who stand to make a tidy profit off the sale and are recipients of REBNY bribes errr campaign contributions.

  2. Please leave your paranoid delusions on another site. A newspaper’s blog deals in facts, not confabulations made up out of whole cloth such as your comments here. The TA has no plans to sell apartments “for a perceived fortune.” Get a grip. I’m a RS tenant with no intention of buying but recognize a pile of smear tactics for what it is. Maybe you should run for the board, I’m sure your ideas will make everything wonderful again.

  3. Just because you say these are paranoid delusions doesn’t make it so. I have personally asked the board’s members to state their intentions since they are leading the effort to buy and each has refused to say whether they are buying or not. Only Dan Garodnick stated that he would buy. I understand comprehension might not be your strong suit but I never said the TA was going to sell apartments I said that perhaps the board members making the decisions (many in direct opposition to what their members want) are planning on buying their apartments. This is a clear conflict of interest. Obviously you wouldn’t know a smear tactic if a smear tactic walked up to you and said hello I am a smear tactic. You just keep right on drinking from the TA’s teats and keep on showing how delusional you are. I’ll wager that you are one of those TA supporters that believes that the TA represents a majority of households in the project. You would probably be shocked to know that they represent less than 1 out of every 10 apartments making them, like you, irrelevant. You sound as ridiculous as Peter Stuyvesant or A (name left out) or E (name left out) on the laughable TA Facebook page. As for running for the board, no. I would never associate myself with a group that has been the failure that the TA has been for at least the last 10 years. Could you imagine where we would be if the TA had gotten PCVST the first go around. Talk about delusional!!!

    • At this point, mgmt could claim that this story is just the misguided work of one employee, so “doing something about it” is a little premature. If other reports start rolling in to the TA about similar maintenance worker inspections, a pattern can be established and then action can be taken. So it’s important for residents to report these incidents to the TA.

      Notice to T&V: A certain local blog has been taken over by a few nasty characters who have axes to grind and use any opportunity to smear the TA and Dan Garodnick. Apparently that site’s not big enough, now they’re doing it here too.

      • I am not smearing the TA or Garodnick. I am simply calling them out for doing nothing for tenants because all they care about is becoming owners, which will never happen. The place may go condo which would be a shame but it won’t go to Brookfield. Too many obstacles created by the TA and Garodnicks going behind tenants backs to cut a deal without their members approval. The lawsuits against the TA will bankrupt it. Garodnicks political career is at its end after he finally accepts the term limits that he used to support. He has no chance of moving on to another office since they are all taken and NYers never vote out an incumbent. The TA has no right to think that they are the be all and end all around here. Their membership is at an all time low somewhere around 10% mosly because they are supposed to work FOR tenants not go against their wishes. The TA and Dan Garodnick have smeared themselves with their greed and avarice.

        Notice to T&V: A certain local newspaper has been taken over by a very nasty TA and a very ineffective city council member who are trying to enrich themselves to the detriment of the very people they were to serve. Apparently this newspaper isn’t big enough, now they’re doing it on other websites.

    • Right on KBOP! Couldn’t have said it better. The TA is in the tank for management and has been for years. They lost any credibility some time ago. Now they need to be on the other side of some lawsuits to get them to cease and desist.

  4. I expect immediate action towards this action by the TA. Perhaps better than the 14 months it took for the Sandy reparations.

  5. INSPECTIONS: WHY?

    Me wonders if there is a relationship between these unannounced inspections and the fact that such a large percent of letters which appear in T&V are signed, “name withheld.” And, what was the round of announced inspections during this past year about?

    I also wonder if President Putin has become a model for real estate interests in this nation.

  6. Getting back on topic: I have a plumber coming in this week to fix something in my bathroom. If I see him attempt to open the bedroom door (which will be locked) I will immediately call the NYPD. Scheduled inspections are one thing; plumbers and handymen snooping around is something else. CW has no business using these workers for their despicable methods of harassing tenants, especially as CW’s hiring practices are very questionable.

    This is not the same place it was when MetLife ran it (pre-Benmoishe) and it is no longer a given that the workers are honest, even though most of them probably are. Aside from that, they simply have no business snooping around no matter what their bosses may have told them to do. It is obvious that this insatiably greedy, amoral joke of a landlord has no compunction about using and abusing both its employees and tenants. Elderly tenants are particularly at risk and should be aware that they are the main target of harassment by these goons.

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