From The New York Shitty Inbox, Part II: Rats at the Astral?

February 16, 2011 by
Filed under: 11222, Greenpoint, Greenpoint Brooklyn, Greenpoint Magic 

Although I have asked this tipster for more information I feel compelled to “crowd-source” this item, which involves one of the Garden Spot’s more renowned buildings: none other than the Astral. J writes:

I’m sure you’ve seen the explosion of rats at the Astral since the blizzard. What can we do to get Astral Apts. or the city to remove the rats?

Actually I have not seen nor heard anything about this— thank god. However, I’d wager the woeful lack of garbage pick-up that followed our blizzard(s) has a lot to do with this. Since J has not indicated where these rats are to be found, I am going to presume they are within the Astral’s premises.

Here’s the deal: New York City apartment dwellers are to having a safe and “livable” domiciles per something called the “Warrant of Habitability”. Here’s a brief run-down of what this entails per RentLaw:

Tenants are entitled to a livable, safe and sanitary apartment. Lease provisions inconsistent with this right are illegal. Failure to provide heat or hot water on a regular basis, or to rid an apartment of insect infestation are examples of a violation of this warranty. Public areas of the building are also covered by the warranty of habitability. The warranty of habitability also applies to cooperative apartments, but not to condominiums. Any uninhabitable condition caused by the tenant or persons under his direction or control does not constitute a breach of the warranty of habitability. In such a case, it is the responsibility of the tenant to remedy the condition. (Real Property Law §235-b)

Although rats are not explicitly stated above, methinks it would be safe to presume they would be classified as vermin just as insects are.  Now let’s take into account that the Astral is a rent-stabilized building and as such J’s means of recourse are a little different than regular New York City apartments. If (or when) this gentlemen calls 311 his complaint will be referred to an entity called Housing Preservation and Development. To keep it stupid simple, this agency oversees public housing and rent-stabilized apartments. This organization will send out an inspector to assess the problem. If he (or she) notes the presence of vermin the building owner will be notified and expected to fix the problem. Exactly how long this process will take is anyone’s guess.

If the problem is not addressed— and HPD has noted the presence of vermin tenants may file for a reduction of his (or her rent) via the Department of Housing and Community Renewal for (and I quote) “decreased services”. This can be filed for individual apartments or building-wide. You can view the requisite forms by clicking here. Yours truly has successfully done this in the past. Be advised it takes several months.

But hopefully it will not come to this for J and his neighbors. It goes without saying that the first thing he and his should do is contact the landlord. In the case of Pistilli Realty (and I have been told this by someone who residents in one of their buildings) the key is to be persistent!

In closing, this is a very general (and laywoman’s) synopsis of what recourse J has for this situation. It should go without saying that if the vermin problem persists he should enlist the services of an attorney. The previous caveat/disclaimer having been made, has anyone in the Astral noted the increased presences of rats? If so I would very much like to hear from you. Please send you accounts and/or photographs to: missheather (at) thatgreenpointblog (dot) com. It goes without saying your identity will remain anonymous if you so desire.


Miss Heather


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