Tenants at two buildings owned by Zara Realty, one of the bigger landlords in Queens, staged protests at two buildings on Tuesday afternoon claiming that heat and hot water are being cut during the overnight hours, and that the company has been unresponsive to complaints.
Eighteen people showed up at the demonstration in front of the company’s offices at 166-07 Hillside Ave. in Jamaica. A separate protest took place in Elmhurst at 94-25 57 Ave.
“We have a lot of complaints,” said Jahan Girjossan, president of the tenants association at 88-15 168 St. “They cut our heat and hot water.”
A woman who gave her name as Deanna said her grandmother has lived in the 168th Street building for 30 years, and that the cutbacks come usually between 10 p.m. and 5:30 a.m.
“They reduce the heat and the hot water is barely hot,” she said. “My grandmother is 90, and she gets sick easily.”
Rima Begum of Chhaya CDC, a tenant advocacy organization, delivered a letter to the Jamaica office detailing their concerns, stating that under city law heat must be provided when the temperature falls below 62 degrees. The letter also claims that Zara has frequently ignored or inadequately addressed complaints.
During the brief protest Begum said some tenants are participating in a rent strike. She also called on the state to step in and stop evictions.
Brief presentations also were made in Spanish and Bengali.
In an email, a spokesman for Zara first addressed the eviction matter.
“We understand that many of our fellow New Yorkers are facing economic difficulties right now,” the statement said. “For those experiencing significant loss of income as a result of the pandemic, we have provided extensive support to tenants to access and understand many of the financial assistance programs that are available to them. We have provided flexible options and we work closely with any tenant who needs help because of COVID-related economic challenges.”
The company said it also is not aware of any heating problems.
“If any tenant has a maintenance request, including for heat or hot water, we can be contacted 24/7 and will respond to address their needs by scheduling a time to inspect the apartment,” the statement said.