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Superintendent and family refuse to wear masks

NYC Rent Regulation: Rent Control/Rent Stabilized, DHCR Practice/Procedures

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Superintendent and family refuse to wear masks

Postby bluegrasslady » Mon Sep 28, 2020 10:12 pm

I live in a building of 60 units with rent-stabilized, rent-controlled and market rate apartments.
The superintendent and his family refuse to wear masks.
They gather the recyclables and take out the trash (and not much else, to be honest) using the elevator and not wearing masks.
I have filed several complaints with the landlord, and they still continue not to comply.
I have also filed several complaints with 311, and apparently nothing has been done by the City, either.

Since the landlord is running an active business, is collecting rents, etc. and our building is one where janitorial services are required, does the LL not fall under the same umbrella as any other business in NYC?

Thanks in advance for any help!
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Re: Superintendent and family refuse to wear masks

Postby TenantNet » Mon Sep 28, 2020 10:38 pm

I would say so. Has the LL put up any signs advising or requiring tenants to wear masks, or limit the number of people in confined areas like elevators? Has anyone in the building, to your knowledge, acquired COVID (even recovered)? If so, have they informed the LL of the infection? (they probably should do so in writing by certified mail as it puts the LL on notice)

I've heard differing opinions on this. But I agree with those who believe this should fall under the Warranty of Habitability requiring a safe environment in the building. There are some things the LL cannot be blamed as he can't prevent certain things. But he can require the super, his family and all tenants to wear protective gear.

Take a look at this page: https://www.rosenbergestis.com/Industry ... sues.shtml

Understand this is a landlord law firm.

Also, does your building have an active tenant association? If not, then time to organize. (but leave the dirty work to rent stab tenants).
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Re: Superintendent and family refuse to wear masks

Postby bluegrasslady » Wed Sep 30, 2020 4:13 pm

Hi Tenant.Net,
Thank you so much for your response.
Here are answers to your questions.

1. Has the LL put up any signs advising or requiring tenants to wear masks, or limit the number of people in confined areas like elevators?

Yes. A sign saying masks are required is in the lobby. Another sign in the elevator says masks are required, and the number of people in the elevator is limited to two, and social distancing must be maintained.

2. Has anyone in the building, to your knowledge, acquired COVID (even recovered)?

Yes. A middle-aged guy got it, recovered, then refused to wear a mask because "I'm immune," said he. (I disabused him of that belief citing the NYT.)

3. If so, have they informed the LL of the infection (they probably should do so in writing by certified mail as it puts the LL on notice)?

This I do not know. The guy is very arrogant, and I seriously doubt he would have done that.
* * *

Because of your sage advice, I am going to go to the LL one last time and ask him to demand that they comply, because of the Warranty of Habitability. We have a right not to be exposed to dangerous situations. I thank you once again and appreciate your time and help! Stay safe and well!
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Re: Superintendent and family refuse to wear masks

Postby TenantNet » Wed Sep 30, 2020 4:38 pm

Medical professionals will be the first to say they do not yet know if COVID immunity works, and if so, for how long. I have asked a number of doctors on this. At this point, no one knows.

I acquired COVID in the Spring, and have since recovered. My most recent test says I am positive for antibodies (and negative for the actual virus), but the doctors say this is no guarantee of immunity. Make sure your neighbor knows this as he is putting you and others at risk.

One can also have what is known as longhaulers ... basically symptoms that continue to aggravate the person affected. It's generally lethargy, but can be other things. Look it up.

I would send the LL a cert. letter informing them of the one infection. Normally, this might be a privacy issue, but COVID is way beyond privacy. You can quote from the landlord law firm URL above, or get your own lawyer to write a letter. Take photos of the super and others who refuse to wear masks.

Don't know for certain, but I would think the LL might have potential liability if they continue to not enforce basic protections or neglect in other ways.

I would also call the city and various electeds and community board and make complaints about this. After all, it is a workplace.
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Re: Superintendent and family refuse to wear masks

Postby bluegrasslady » Wed Sep 30, 2020 4:50 pm

I just wrote to them (email, which they do respond to) and told them that if I see the supers doing this again, I would contact HCR to file a formal complaint and to ask for a rent reduction, and/or initiate the resumption of our tenants' association (dormant for some time) and/or encourage other tenants to file for rent reductions on the Warrant of Habitability.

Unfortunately I don't know the name of Mr. Arrogant Got Covid-and-Recovered, but I did mention in my email that we did have someone in the building who had it, and that perhaps the supers may have transmitted it to him.

I'm going to wait and see what happens.

If I see them working without masks again, I will contact HCR and our local pols (who are really great about following up with letters and calls, I have to say). But I want the LL to know this may well hurt them in their pocketbook. With them, mentioning that they may lose money because of this is basically the best course. (They already have a bad reputation with pols and HCR.)
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Re: Superintendent and family refuse to wear masks

Postby bluegrasslady » Wed Sep 30, 2020 4:51 pm

Thank you so much, again, Tenant.Net!
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Re: Superintendent and family refuse to wear masks

Postby TenantNet » Wed Sep 30, 2020 4:59 pm

I don't think DHCR is your best option. Make sure you have photos of whoever it is. List dates and times.

DHCR does not really deal with WOH issues. WOH and required services are different things.

You could file a HP Action in Housing Court, or withhold rent, but the reality is that for non-pays, the courts are jammed up. Get inspectors. Write the NYC and NYS Dept of Health.

This stuff is serious; don't delay. I would give them 24 hours, at most.
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Re: Superintendent and family refuse to wear masks

Postby bluegrasslady » Wed Sep 30, 2020 5:22 pm

Thanks for this good information. I wouldn't ever not pay my rent w/out having sought the advice of an attorney -- just not a good idea. They'd have me in court in a NY minute.

I complained several times to 311 both over the net and via phone, and nothing at all has occurred. I even called 311 the other night to ask them, so what happens when I file a complaint? Does the owner get fined? The poor guy at 311 had no idea. He was stuck on the idea that I was trying to file about a mask violation and the category was "business, like a restaurant." Ugh.

I could definitely contact the NYC and NYS Departments of Health, though. Great ideas. I appreciate your help so much!
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Re: Superintendent and family refuse to wear masks

Postby bluegrasslady » Wed Sep 30, 2020 5:23 pm

P.S. I think if I took a picture of the super not wearing a mask, he would get violent and try to rip my phone out of my hand. He and I despise each other. He is a real **h***. But I could try.
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Re: Superintendent and family refuse to wear masks

Postby TenantNet » Wed Sep 30, 2020 5:48 pm

We've said this many times - the 311 system is a joke, but it does allow you to put a complaint on record. Do not expect anything. It's even worse now that NYPD is ignoring 99% of calls for help.

I would write to the Health Commissioner, the Mayor, the Community Board and local electeds. The idea is to get them to stop the bad behavior, not get a rent reduction or abatement, right?
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Re: Superintendent and family refuse to wear masks

Postby bluegrasslady » Thu Oct 01, 2020 11:57 am

Good news! It looks as if the email in which I threatened to contact HCR, and/or revive our Tenants' Association, and/or encourage other tenants to file for a rent reduction worked.

Last night the superintendent emptied the recyclables and HE WAS WEARING A MASK.
Yippeeeee!

Thanks so much, TN. If this happens again, you've given me a lot of ammunition, and I appreciate that very much.

Please stay safe and be well!
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Re: Superintendent and family refuse to wear masks

Postby TenantNet » Thu Oct 01, 2020 12:02 pm

So you saw him once wearing a mask. How long will that last? Keep an eye out, and keep a diary of when he does, or doesn't, wear a mask. Also record if he wears it below the mouth, or allows his nose to peek out. I know these things can be uncomfortable (especially if one wears glasses). But seriously, would you rather have the alternative?
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Re: Superintendent and family refuse to wear masks

Postby bluegrasslady » Thu Oct 01, 2020 2:35 pm

Thank you, TN! I'm going to take a picture.... Mask on, mask off. I completely get where you're coming from. Like I said, he's an a****.

Thank you so much, again!
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Re: Superintendent and family refuse to wear masks

Postby TenantNet » Thu Oct 01, 2020 5:38 pm

IO would deal with it in a reasonable manner and not be too "nanny" about it. He should be wearing a mask in any location where there might be people, residents or the public, such as hallways, lobbies, etc.

In his office (if he has one), there's no need to put on a mask unless others are present.
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