2011-09-02 / Letters

DBP Should Be Ashamed

Dear Editor,

In January of 2009, Mrs. Virginia Shea was entering the elevator of her residence at 8800 Shore Front Parkway when the door suddenly jerked closed throwing her against two walls and to the floor. At the time she was a totally independent 91-year-old woman active in three local church groups, the American Cancer Society and the Trinity Seniors. This negligence caused her to spend the next six months splitting time between Peninsula Hospital and Rockaway Care Center. To this day she has never returned to the vibrant woman that she was.

This was my first encounter with Dayton Beach Park #1 Corp. Since the accident was witnessed by their security patrol, a report was filed with management immediately following. The hospital, for billing purposes, needed the name and address of Dayton’s insurance company. I tried unsuccessfully on two occasions, but on the third try I met with one of the managers. I believe her name was Mary. She proceeded to tell me that she would not give up this information because she had not yet decided whether or not this case warranted forwarding to the insurance provider. After all, she said, people around here are slipping and falling all the time and it’s my job to determine if a report should be filed. I thought it was up to the insurance company to investigate all claims, but what do I know.

Fast forward to December 2009. The dizziness and loss of equilibrium due to a number of concussions received was getting the best of my Mother. She needed help with everyday chores until she gets back to normal. Her biggest fear was leaving her apartment of 23 years vacant while she recuperated at my sister’s house in Poughkeepsie. She told this to the management office and said that she would like to list her son as a tenant. He would live in the apartment and maintain it until her return. They told her that she needed to write a letter and dictated to her exactly what to put in it. Especially the fact that she was relocating to Poughkeepsie. I moved in on January 16, 2010 and took up temporary residence until her return. After 14 months there, I went to management and applied for secession rights to the apartment in case anything prevented my mother’s return. At first I was told that I had to wait 2 years. However, because I am disabled the waiting time is only 1 year according to the rules of Mitchell- Lama housing. I was warned at this point not to upset Rodney, the manager, because he is volatile and has a bad temper. This is the person running a co-op. I was then told that management is looking to take back this apartment anyway, so don’t bother filing for secession.

Certified letters started showing up informing me that my mother abandoned her apartment and is being evicted. Incidentally, every time they send you a lawyer’s letter they charge you $349. We retained a lawyer and headed to housing court. When Dayton’s lawyer showed up he was waving the letter my mother wrote and saying, “Don’t try to get out of this, I’ve got her letter saying she’s moving to Poughkeepsie.” The same letter that management dictated to her. He then threatened to subpoena her to appear, even though I had power-of-attorney. I told him it was difficult for her to travel. He responded, “I don’t care, if I want her here she’ll have to appear.” It was shortly after this that a decision was made to sell back the apartment. To put my mother through this and to keep spending unknown dollars on lawyers, it just wasn’t worth it. I notified management that the apartment would be vacated by August 31, 2011.

Usually at this point the next 5 people on the list would be contacted and we would allow them to view the apartment. This was not done. Management had a different plan. After you move out, we were told, we will then start to show the apartment. But keep in mind that you are responsible for the next 3 months rent while we secure a buyer. The next step is the apartment inspection. Before I get into that let me go back 23 years when my mother purchased this apartment for a little under $5000 (3 shares of stock). She received the place broom swept. I spent the next 3 weeks painting the entire apartment, shampooing the carpet, installing a kitchen floor, wallpapering both the kitchen and bathroom, fixing light fixtures, and general cleaning bringing the apartment to move in condition. This is done no matter where you move to. It is always expected that preparation is needed when you move to a new place. Now the inspection. Management now informs me of certain things they want done before the return of any equity. Incidentally, the apartment is now worth $12,000. Here is what management needs me to do:

Rip up every floor in the apartment and replace it with commercial tile. The 3-year-old carpet and linoleum does not meet their standards. Remove and replace the kitchen sink and countertop, the cabinet doors and drawers. Remove the shower doors and bathroom vanity. Grout the bathroom. Paint the entire apartment. Remove all wallpaper. Remove the stove (which was there when she moved in).

In other words, BUILD US A NEW APARTMENT!!!

If these things are not done a private contractor will be brought in and paid out of your equity. It’s a sure way of management keeping your money. ALL your money. And, from what I understand, this is not the first time. Is this the reason that there are vacant apartments throughout the complex? Isn’t there a list of people wanting these apartments? Where’s HPD while all this is going on? Where’s Mitchell- Lama enforcement?

My sister and I went over to the management office and spoke with Charlene. One of the papers she had me sign on the date of inspection stated that I will abide by the 1998 Dayton Beach guidelines for moving out. We asked her for a copy which she promptly gave us. To my amazement, and I think Charlene’s also, the guidelines contradicted almost everything they were telling us to do. The apartment did not have to be painted. Only if the walls were covered in dark or shocking colors, to which Charlene replied, “what’s shocking to some is not shocking to others.” The walls are off white. Shocking. Next, the floors only had to be changed if tiles were broken or in poor condition. Again, not the case. As I kept reading aloud, Charlene grabbed the copy out of my sister’s hand and went into Rodney Reed’s office. He then directed Charlene to stop talking with us, don’t give us our copy back and leave the office. Having signed for this “Guidelines,” we wanted our copy. We were again refused and the police were called to remove us from the management office.

My guess is that the 1998 Guidelines are being frantically updated, or at the very least, every copy is being destroyed. Mr. Reed’s comments to all of this were his usual chant, “take me to court”, where their lawyers will just wear you down with postponement after postponement until you’re out of money or just disgusted at the whole situation. And yet again, another shareholder bites the dust. Management keeps all the earned equity and gets a new apartment to sell thanks to you!

So, come August 27, I will vacate the apartment and she will probably never see any of her money after 30 years in the same building.

I hope that evicting a 94-year-old, 30- year tenant makes you feel good. The management of this cooperative should be ashamed of themselves.

KEVIN SHEA

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