Saturday, October 20, 2018

Five Telltale Signs Work is Being Performed Illegally

No permit and unlicensed workers outside of Apt#5G (Cutting corners and saving money can risk the lives of the workers and of the tenants in the building. Integrity and safety are linked. (Photo: Kirby Sommers October 19, 2018)

There are five telltale signs that work is being performed illegally:

1. Work after hours. The New York City Department of Buildings permits work only Monday through Friday 7 A.M. to 6 P.M. Co-ops and condos tend to further restrict the hours (so as not to inconvenience or disturb residents).  The most flexible ones usually allow work 9 A.M. – 5 P.M.

 2. No work permits posted. If walls are being demolished or moved, a work permit is needed. It doesn’t matter how small the wall is.

 3. Nobody on the job site speaks English. If the contractor does not speak English, chances are that he is not licensed and insured.

 4. Work contrary to approved plans. Posted work permits list in abbreviated form the scope of approved work. If permits indicate demolition and new walls are being built, something is wrong.

 5. Questionable safety.  If workers are on scaffolds and do not have safety harnesses, they probably do not have the required OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) certifications. If they do, then they are violating code.

(Penal Law § 120.20: A person is guilty of reckless endangerment in the second degree when he recklessly engages in conduct which creates a substantial risk of serious physical injury to another person)


Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Asbestos: Legal notice for asbestos related work in residential building

Legal Notice for asbestos related work to be done in building

Project Requirements: Asbestos

A project may involve the removal or disturbance of Asbestos Containing Material (ACM).  Pre-1987 buildings may have plumbing piping and equipment insulated with asbestos, or may contain walls, floors, ceiling tiles, roofing, etc. made with an ACM.  These buildings, prior to permit, an asbestos assessment is required to determine whether the site is asbestos–free, has a minimally acceptable amount of ACM to not be an Asbestos Project, or requires asbestos abatement per NYC Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) rules and regulations.

Pursuant to DEP rules, applications for renovation projects shall comply with the following procedures with respect to the asbestos certification requirements.

Old radiator pipes removed on September 27, 2018 in Apt#5G (also in 5H 4G, 4H)




Before a large abatement begins, NYS requires the property owner and the asbestos abatement contractor to provide 10 calendar days written or posted notice to residential and business occupants on the same floor and one floor above and below the abatement area. Three days notice is required for small or minor abatements. Notice for emergency abatements must be provided as soon as possible.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Kirby Sommers is being harassed, threatened, initimated by landlord for tenant advocacy work

Stock image. Not actual image of the front of my apartment.

In yet another display of intentional infliction of emotional duress and to retaliate/harass me into moving out of my apartment because of my tenant advocacy work via the tenants’ association – our landlord had men show up at my door with sledgehammers yesterday (10/15/18).

The acting super, Brian, knocked on my door at 10:30am (which is illegal – an agent of any landlord cannot just knock on your door unless it is an emergency) – to tell me they were going to break apart the hallway floor tiles in front of my apartment.

Last month when they attempted to do this (some minor repair work needs to be done) – they agreed to wait until “after” my apartment has been repaired.

However, that did not happen.
I opened the door and saw 2 day workers (unlicensed) with sledgehammers and our 23 year old super standing there. My mind raced to images of rats invading my apartment, dust, noise.

I became momentarily unhinged: “No way you are doing this today!”
Brian, the acting super, got into the elevator and left to speak with the managing agent of the building Joe (Zef) Zagreda. When he came back up he told me that they would “not do it today, but are giving me 7-day notice.” (This reference was in direct response to my email to them alerting them of how to properly notify tenants).
I immediately contacted Arthur (the owner/landlord) and he told me: “You and I are enemies, the tenants’ association…” Whenever he and I speak he always brings up the tenants association.

I responded: “many of the tenants have told me that you were the person who created the tenants’ association. We have a volunteer group and no one likes to work long hours for free making you do the right thing.”

“Don’t lecture me,” he responded.

Reluctantly, he agreed to delay the work until after repairs to my apartment have been made. However, he also told me he will only speak to my attorney and will no longer speak with me directly.

This is also illegal and costly on my end.

His son, Alex, months and months ago in April told me: “Kirby, you have to move, your apartment is very damaged due to leaks from the roof, so you have to move.”

This is the point when I knew I needed an attorney and so I hired one.

That was May. It is now middle of October and the only thing in my apartment that has been repaired is the intercom.


If you are being harassed by your landlord you may file a complaint.


Information on what constitutes harassment and how to file a harassment complaint can be found here:



Various methods may be employed in cases of landlord harassment, such as, but not limited to the following:
  • Withholding maintenance on the property, such as garbage collection, landscaping, or repair of broken fixtures
  • Verbal and written complaints, imagined or exaggerated, of tenant's supposed improper conduct (see notice to quit)
  • Deliberate defacing of the rented facilities or the property of the tenant
  • Creating a nuisance for the tenant (for example, by generating loud noise)
  • Intimidation and threats of physical or financial injury directed at the tenant
  • Physical assault or other direct criminal activity directed against the tenant
  • Attempt to enter apartment or housing without cause, or without emergency need to check on premises or on tenant activity
  • Claiming emergency when no emergency exists to enter apartment, housing, dwelling etc., without proper notice.
  • Not letting tenant peace on property via repeated attempts to enter dwelling.
  • Harassment about Rent Not Paid, or Not paid in full.
  • Disconnecting water supply or electricity, without proper notice

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Trash Chute | Airborne bacteria | Maintenance | What you want to know

Trash Chute at 143 West 69 Street

A blast of bacteria laden air sucker punched me awake at 3am this morning. I suddenly remembered the trash chutes were being cleaned and realized they were probably doing this in the middle of the night.
Trash chutes also called “hoppers” have never been cleaned in our two sister buildings. No one, including myself, has any recollection of the landlord ever performing any maintenance on them other than replacing loose doors when it is brought to their attention by a tenant.

Maintenance man said he'd never seen dirtier, grimier trash chutes than our two buildings. "They've never been cleaned."
Garbage chutes have vents and this allows the stench to circulate into the hallways and into our individual apartments where we are then, without any knowledge, exposed to airborne bacteria and toxins.
Fire is another possibility for trash chutes that aren’t maintained properly. A combination of grease, grime and bits of debris can immediately ignite and start a fire in any residential building where proper maintenance is not performed.
I had some minor skin lesions on my face for a couple of hours after the dirt literally hit my face.
Another day. Another disaster barely survived.
I am happy our landlord and management company cleaned the trash chutes but may sleep somewhere else if they do this again in the future.

Roof work | Aluminum Coating Painted on Entire Roof | October 6 ,2018

Work on Roof | October 6, 2018 (Saturday)

Tim Nelligan, president of United Cool Roof Coatings: “Facilities managers cannot think of a coating as solving all their roofing problems,” he says. “If you have a leak, fix it before you apply a coating. Sure, a coating will probably stop the leak, but that fix won’t last as long as if you fix the leak and then apply the coating.”

October 6, 2018 on roof | 143 West 69th Street
Photos by Kirby Sommers

Empty bucket used for painting the roof with silver paint
Drain pipe lifted in preparation for painting the roof.

Reflective coating applied to the entire roof. Note: this is not to be used for sealing cracks as per supplier information.

Palmer Asphalt is the supplier of the silver coating on the roof.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Trash chutes will be cleaned on Saturday October 13, 2018 | For the first time.

The garbage chutes at 143 West 69 Street and 2020 Broadway will be cleaned tomorrow.
This is the first time I have ever seen them cleaned.
They are a source of food scraps for rats, mice, insects - and I am happy to see our landlord / management company finally take a step in the maintenance of the buildings.
Notes were placed under our doors this evening Friday, October 12, 2018. I am happy to see that the Tenants Association (being the first to place notices under doors) has inspired our landlord / management company in doing the same.
And our request for PROPER NOTICE is finally, finally being heard.
One step toward eradicating the rodent infestation in our buildings.

Roof | Noi Due fans on roof get maintenance | Finally.

The fans for the restaurant on the lower level of 143 West 69 Street that are on the roof of the building and that create condensation were serviced this afternoon.

Another hooray.

I hope the maintenance of the buildings, the common areas and our apartments (our homes) continues to improve.

Kirby Sommers, President
Cornfeld Tenants Association
143 West 69 Street
New York, NY 10023

HVAC | Cooling Tower finally passed inspection

HVAC | Cooling tower straddling 143 West 69 Street Roof | October 6, 2018
UPDATE: Some repair work was done to the HVAC system. The middle portion had been leaking and some black substance was used to stop the torrent of water that gushed out and soaked up the roof.
The pipes were repositioned and some metallic sun reflecting silver paint was applied throughout the roof which obscures the damp areas of the roof to the naked eye.
Today an inspector took a look and the HVAC unit FINALLY passed inspection.
Hooray for us.
The following photo is how the HVAC system looked like for years:

 HVAC on roof of 143 West 69 Street had water leaking (condensation) on the roof for years.
This was finally *somewhat* repaired late September and into first week of October, 2018.


A lot of the apartments at 143 West 69 Street suffered water damage, my apartment among them. The condensation from this HVAC system soaked through the roof and into the ceilings and walls of many of the units.
It has been a long road and hard battle to getting things repaired and to have ownership and management listen to the complaints of the people who live here.
I hope this is a turning point and I applaud their effort.
The next step is repairing damaged apartments (not cosmetically but proper repair) and maintaining the property in good condition.

Progress. I love progress. Yay.