TA blasts CW for short or no notice on work in apts.

Garodnick drafting bill to protect tenants from unauthorized entry

By Sabina Mollot

In CWCapital’s ongoing effort to renovate as many apartments as possible, tenants in neighboring units have also been made to allow work to get done in their own apartments to replace pipes in support of the work on the adjoining renovation projects. In the process, some of those neighbors have been getting inconvenienced in ways that have, in at least a couple of instances, been disturbing, according to the ST-PCV Tenants Association.

In a notice that will soon be shared with neighbors on the TA’s website, the TA noted how management hasn’t been giving tenants sufficient notice before breezing on in, in several cases. In one complaint, the TA heard how a teenage girl, alone at home, got scared when maintenance workers unexpectedly banged on and then opened her apartment door.

In another case, a tenant, who gave no authorization for her apartment to be entered, recently returned from a vacation to find her cabinets emptied. The cabinets’ contents were left strewn on the counters, with no explanation. Meanwhile, the work takes one to two days to complete, leaving the kitchen unusable.

“Despite the gross inconvenience, management has not offered to compensate affected tenants for the loss of use of the kitchen and the disruption to the tenants’ right to quiet enjoyment of their homes,” the TA said.

In a case of short notice, the TA said, a tenant was given notice on a Thursday that workers would be entering the apartment on the following Monday. “That’s just four calendar days; the city requires seven calendar days,” the TA said. Additionally, the TA said, management is only supposed to be entering apartments for non-emergency work if tenants’ have given their explicit permission, “and these renovations are not emergencies.”

In response to the TA’s concerns, Council Member Dan Garodnick is drafting legislation that would protect tenants from unauthorized entry or entry with very short notice.

The legislation would include provisions that in notices requesting apartment access, management would have to provide, along with a callback phone number, an email address or another electronic option for tenants to use if requesting a schedule change. Additionally, notices would have to be dated and sent to the tenants’ email address if the owner has one on file. Lastly, consent would not be assumed if the tenant doesn’t respond. However, if after 14 days there is no response, then an owner could enter the apartment.

“There has long been a feeling that people are finding themselves with unwanted visitors,” Garodnick told T&V, “just because they did not see a note or did not have time to respond. This has picked up recently where there are non-emergency improvements being made to neighboring apartments. In that context, we need to protect the sanctity of individual units.”

A spokesperson for CWCapital declined to comment on apartment access or the planned legislation. However, the owner and the TA have clashed on this issue in the past, like last year when management was conducting a round of apartment inspections on safety issues and lease policy compliance. At that time, the TA advised residents to consent to the inspection but be present for it to a recent spate of apartment burglaries that may have been committed by a contractor doing work for CW.

Burglaries at 3 apts. in Stuy Town

By Sabina Mollot 

A burglar or burglars has hit three apartments in Stuyvesant Town recently, each time at a building undergoing intercom repairs and with no forced entry to the unit. In each incident, jewelry was removed and in the most recent incident, reported late Tuesday, $40,000 worth of jewelry was taken, according to the ST-PCV Tenants Association.

Another victim reported losing $6,000 worth of jewelry and in the other case, $10,000 in jewelry was said to be taken. The buildings are 610 East 20th Street, 319 Avenue C and most recently 620 East 20th Street.

The TA sent an emailed alert to residents on Tuesday night about the burglaries as well as its concerns about unauthorized entry into apartments by employees of the property for non-emergency-related work. In two cases, tenants returned home to find their doors ajar.

“Both of these ‘door left ajar’ reports were from buildings receiving the new intercoms,” the TA said. “One of the reports was from the same building and same time frame as one of the burglaries.”

The commanding officer of the 13th Precinct, Deputy Inspector David Ehrenberg, said the

Stuyvesant Town Security Chief Bill McClellan and General Manager Sean Sullivan address residents at a town hall meeting on Tuesday. Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel

Stuyvesant Town Security Chief Bill McClellan and General Manager Sean Sullivan address residents at a town hall meeting on Tuesday.
Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel

case is being investigated by the detective squad.

“The standout thing is that there was no forced entry,” said Ehrenberg, who added that there was no way to determine yet if the crimes were committed by an employee or contractor. Stuy Town management has been fully cooperative though, he said. Meanwhile, ST/PCV now has a beefed up police presence.

A spokesperson for CWCapital declined to comment on the incidents to Town & Village, citing the ongoing investigation.

However, numerous tenants who’d heard about onsite burglaries demanded answers from management at a town hall meeting held at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday at the Community Center.

At that time, management only knew of two incidents. (The report of a third came later in the evening). Residents were also concerned that contractors were being let into apartments to do maintenance when the tenants weren’t home, especially in light of the recent burglaries.

“(The incidents) all seemed to coincide with maintenance work taking place,” said Tenants Association board member Kirstin Aadahl.

In response, Sean Sullivan, general manager of ST/PCV, who was hosting the meeting, said that, “Public Safety escorts contractors to apartments. That’s the way it should happen.”

ST/PCV’s head of security, Bill McClellan, added that while at that time, a third burglary had been rumored, in one of the incidents, the woman later found the things she thought were missing.

John Marsh, president of the TA, later said that this was the first of the four burglary reports to come in, ironically occurring a few days before the other, confirmed incidents.  In that case, the Peter Cooper Village resident who reported it later discovered jewelry she thought was stolen in the back of her safe deposit box.

Marsh added that although the next two incidents were reported on May 2 and 3, they’re believed to have occurred in April. He also said he’s heard rumors about a fourth incident, this one again at 620 East 20th Street.

The resident who was burglarized at 610 told T&V she was the one to lose $6,000 worth of jewelry, all of it gold and most of it family heirlooms.

The resident, who didn’t want her name published, also said while she doesn’t know exactly when it happened, she also lives in an apartment where an employee entered to fix the intercom without asking. At that time, her sister, who she shares an apartment with, was home. They don’t know if any maintenance visits were made since then and said after asking, were told there were no records of any such visits.

The woman also said flyers she posted around the building to alert neighbors were taken down, and that she later heard that flyers she’d slipped under neighbors’ doors were actually pulled out by security.

As for the incidents of workers entering apartments without tenants’ permission, according to the TA’s alert, several complaints were from residents who were at home in another room when workers entered “and were terrified to find strangers in their living rooms.”

Marsh also said that while an officer is assigned to stand in the building hallway while work is being done in an apartment, that based on what he’s heard, the presence of an officer is “not consistent.” The TA also said it’s received reports of workers entering apartments despite the resident’s refusal to allow them to do so.

“I remember a time when one could allow owner-employed maintenance personnel into one’s apartment without fear of losing valuables,” TA Chair Susan Steinberg said. “And I remember a time when schedules were always negotiated with Resident Services, who would never dream of forcing an entry, except for an emergency such as water overflow, fire or serious gas leak. Tenants have the right to limit unannounced, unauthorized entries to actual emergency conditions and should insist that management respect these limits.”

In response to the concerns about unauthorized entry, Brian Moriarty, a spokesperson for CW said management was only aware of one such report from a resident.

“In that case, apartment entry was correctly scheduled with the resident but management mistakenly entered one day too early. Management apologized directly to the resident No other claims have been received.  Per the lease, management has the right to enter a unit. In emergency situations, management may enter a unit without notice. In non-emergency situations, management’s practice is to provide notice to residents and provide them the option to reschedule for a more convenient time if desired.

Maria Rocha-Buschel contributed reporting to this article.

This article was updated from the print version published on Thursday, May 9 to include a comment from CWCapital.