BROOKLYN, N.Y. - Shárina Doyle and Jeremiah Aviles say their landlord has ignored repairs ranging from wires to water, a neglected leak they say caused mold.
"Having to be quarantined in our apartment with the mold issue gives you a certain level of anxiety in regards to your health," she said.
She’s lived in this attic apartment in Sunset Park Brooklyn for 10 years, Aviles for five.
"It’s been a good experience until now,” said Doyle.
She called the City’s Department of Housing, Preservation and Development or HPD to complain about the conditions and June 30th the inspector arrived but found a bigger problem.
“And once they discovered that hey this is a two family home, why is there a third apartment? The agent said I'll right back with my supervisor,” recounted Doyle.
Weeks later they came home to an order to vacate on their door. Initially, they were told to leave the next day, but they reached out to elected leaders, a non profit agency and their public defender who they say convinced HPD to give them more time. They're now expected to vacate the premises Thursday, July 30th.
HPD issued a statement to NY1 saying, "The health and safety of residents is our top concern. HPD has issued a vacate order after finding that the family resided in an unsafe attic apartment that would place the family in imminent danger in the event of a fire.“
“We had it mind we had at least a month, you know basically the month of august and maybe leading into September that would give us time to prepare” said Doyle.
After a decade with no problems she says they're most concerned now about catching COVID-19 and where they’re going to live come Thursday, with no savings and very little income during the pandemic.
“Sign a new lease, put down a security deposit, all of this first and last months rent, where are we supposed to go and where are we going to find money for this stuff,” said Aviles.
“This is happening during the pandemic, it kind of compromised our health," said Doyle. "The stress level causes our immune system to be compromised and therefore more susceptible to Covid.”
The city makes clear this is not an eviction, it’s a vacate order from an illegal apartment. The Red Cross will likely help with a few nights of emergency housing while they try to figure out what to do.
The building owner Luis Riquelme faces a fine for the illegal apartment.
NY1 called him to find out what might be done to help the tenants, but he hung up.