A continuing city crackdown on illegally converted apartments netted yet another area building.
The Department of Buildings and Fire Department arrived Wednesday afternoon and kicked out some residents of 401 Onderdonk Avenue after a tenant called the DOB to complain about the two-story apartment building. But according to the husband of the landlord, a Giovanna Torres, it was that very tenant who altered her own apartment into rentable rooms with separate entrances.
“She converted two rooms in her apartment into smaller apartments by installing doors and locks. We didn’t know she was renting the rooms until the Fire Department went inside and we saw what she did,” said the landlord’s husband, who did not want to give his name.
Torres’s husband told BushwickBK that the tenant was being evicted after not paying rent for six months; a judge ruled last month that she must move out by August 2.
“Her rent was only $900 for the last 6 years and we later found out she was charging $500 for each room and pocketing the money herself," said the husband, who also lives on the top floor with the landlord and their three children. He said he did see two men going in and out of the tenant’s apartment over the past few months but since she was being evicted he didn’t bother to question who they were.
"It wasn’t until the firefighter came and kicked everyone out that we found out the two men were actually her tenants."
The owners tried to work it out with the tenant because she had two small children. But after months of dodging him about the money and getting into verbal arguments with his wife, the landlord’s husband said he just wanted her out.
Building records show that the basement was also converted into an apartment but the husband said it was only used for storage. "Nobody lived there. When we bought the building the basement was already converted into an apartment but we knew it was illegal so we never rented it," he said.
The man also did not want to give the name of the disgruntled tenant but said her ex-husband told him the tenant had done this before at another apartment on Himrod Street. The ex-husband, also at the scene after being called by the landlord, said that his ex-wife was known for mistreating their daughter and he just wanted to pick up his child and take her home, but had no clue to where they had been relocated.
The landlord’s husband, describing the former tenant as "crazy," said she told him she called the authorities because "she wanted to keep the house and not pay rent anymore."
"How can I argue with someone who thinks they can keep my house which they don’t own by calling the DOB? You have to be crazy to think that the DOB would kick everyone out except for the one who made the call," he said.
The owners now face multiple fines but "just want to move on."
"The inspector told me I will be fined $1000 a day until I get the violations fixed. I called my contractor and he is coming over tonight to fix this. We will be fine from this, but she will have God to face for what she did to us."
The Red Cross told BushwickBK they were on the scene around 4pm, and are housing three residents.