Dispute grows in Harlem over building renovations

Rent-payers are mad over wholesale renovations at a couple of buildings on Broadway south of 125th Street.

Rent-payers are mad over wholesale renovations at a couple of buildings on Broadway south of 125th Street. 

Call it a dust-up -- if the air quality meter's any measuring stick.

"About half an hour ago it was reading about six or seven thousand on a small particle count, where a thousand is considered very poor," said tenant Robert Sabin, "Just the dust alone in the building is posing a serious health risk."

The buildings are owned by BCB, which is owned by Debrah Lee Charatan, the estranged wife of accused murderer Robert Durst. 

But the issues go deeper than dust, say tenants, who wonder at the safety of their living environment when front doors are left unlocked long after workers are gone for the day.

Chasing News reached out repeatedly to BCB's attorneys, and calls have not been returned.

One attorney for BCB reportedly told DNA Info, however, that tenants are essentially sabotaging themselves to get breaks on rent.

David Hanzal of the building's tenants association said if anything, the opposite is true.

"I think they want to get the rent up to market rate rent," said Hanzal, "With preferential rent they could price most of us out."

Both men have lived in the building for more than 10 years and pay between $1,500 and $2,500 a month in rent. 

On tenants’ rights, Hanzal says he's learning as he goes. 

Gas to apartment stoves has been off for more than a month, and a 10 percent rent rebate has reportedly been issued to tenants. 

But, the relationship remains strained.

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