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City of Rochester files lawsuit against landlord with over 100 outstanding code violations

May 21, 2018 11:21 PM

The city of Rochester declared that it has run out of patience with the landlord behind several troubled apartment buildings by giving him hard deadlines to repair code violations. 

“There’s a time when good faith negotiation just runs out,” declared Tim Curtin, Rochester Corporation Counsel Tim Curtin.  “And this is the point in time when it’s run out.”

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A lawsuit filed Friday targets property owner Peter Hungerford and two buildings he owns, one at 447 Thurston Road and one at 967 Chili Avenue.  

"They say they were going to fix it and I am still waiting!” exclaimed Lady Burgos whose apartment is in the 967 Chili building.

She has had chronic problems with a bathtub drain that is so clogged she needs a toilet plunger to empty it. She also has exposed electrical outlets which she said made her worry about her young grandchildren.

"It's very scary,” she said.  “You know, kids sometimes, they like to touch. Unpredictable."  

"We've been giving him two years of slack," said Curtin. 

The suit demands that Hungerford fix dozens of longtime code violations like deteriorating paint, clogged drains, roaches and mice and calls on the Rochester City Court to force him to fix the problems within 90 days.  

If the issues aren’t corrected, the city’s filing calls on the court to put the buildings into the hands of a receiver to manage them, collect the rent and effect repairs.   

“Because he’s taken it this far, we’re going to get the court to give him a deadline and he’s going to have to comply with the court’s formal deadline or there will be consequences if he fails," said Curtin. 

Hungerford called the city's stance "punitive and aggressive."  He said he has already fixed nearly 100 violations.  Some repairs are visible. The Thurston building has new patches, paint, new windows and a newly installed fire door.  

In a statement Monday afternoon, Hungerford said  "it does seem obvious there is an agenda...   we have offered to remediate all violations multiple times without cooperation from the City."  

Tenants of the two buildings, many of whom began withholding their rent months ago in protest, said they were eager to see this case go to court and many of them planned to be there.

Mary Doran, who had lived in the Chili Avenue building for 9 years, said she wanted to see repairs before her home became unlivable.

“The floor is sinking,” she said.  “My refrigerator is sliding and my stove sliding. Pretty soon I’m going to be in the basement.”

City officials planned to reexamine the buildings, before the court hearing on June 4, in order to create an updated list of violations that 

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