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Jax Hts tenants fault Haros for heat shut-offs

Lucy Rodriguez, 52, unable to speak above a whisper or show any facial expression through her scars, moved two months ago back to her home on the top floor of the building located at 37-52 89th St., owned by Nicholas Haros, an elusive landlord ranked as one of the worst in the city. The Dec. 15, 2004 blaze that burned Rodriguez also left three neighboring children, the Sandoval girls, badly burned and orphaned. Haros bore no responsibility for the fire, which was accidentally set off by a candle in a second-floor apartment, Fire Department officials said.But after the blaze Haros was slow to make repairs to the units damaged in the fire, and other problems associated with aging buildings continued to plague the apartments.Residents, including Byron Munoz, said heat and hot water have been turned off for one or more days for most weekends since October.Haros was ranked as the sixth worst landlord in the city by Housing Here and Now, a tenants rights organization, in a July 2005 report. His 81 buildings in Queens and the Bronx have amassed more than 16,000 housing code violations, according to the city Housing Preservation and Development.The Sandoval girls' third-floor apartment that was directly above the blaze remains unrepaired more than a year after the fire with broken plaster walls and ceilings in the empty rooms still smelling of the smoke that helped kill the girls' parents.The two apartments below on the first and second floors were badly damaged in the fire and remained full of debris for nine months after the fire despite assurances on the part of the landlord that repairs had been made, said Yonel Letellier, chief-of-staff to state Assemblyman Jose Peralta (D-Jackson Heights).A representative from Haros' management office located at 40-16 149th Place in Flushing said had no comment.Peralta met with Richard Neubarth, a lawyer representing Haros' company, New Atlantis Management Corp., and Alirio Orduna, the building's manager, on April 28, 2005 to address the state of the building, Letellier said.Less than a week later Neubarth sent a letter saying that most of their concerns had been addressed. What Peralta discovered later that summer, Letellier said, was that the three apartments most severely damaged by the blaze remained unrepaired and several feet deep in ruins.In September, Peralta held a news conference to show reporters the wreckage and within a week, dumpsters arrived to take out the plaster, wood lathe and other trash from the fire. But the apartments remain unrepaired and unoccupied, tenants said this week."Everyone involved with the maintenance of the building has been getting away with committing countless violations for many years," Letellier said. "It is time to expose them and show them to the light of day. They have been taking advantage of the working men and women of the city and made fools of the corresponding city departments."Building resident Mu–oz, 34, began a petition last weekend which he plans to send Housing to challenge the heating shut-offs.He obtained the signatures from occupants in 61 of the buildings units attesting to the lack of heat over the past two weekends, although he said there have been shut-offs since October. He said he called Orduna, but the manager did not respond and the superintendant told him the lack of heat was due to pieces missing from the heating system.A call to Orduna was not returned.Rodriguez had to move her bedroom from one room to another because water damage from the roof corroding the plaster walls and leaking windows were bad for her health, said her sister, calling the treatment "inhumane."Reach reporter Adam Pincus by e-mail at or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 154.

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