Some Thurston Road tenants to withhold rent, citing deplorable living conditions

Feb 20, 2018

Ceiling collapsed into the bathtub of John Lindsey's apartment
Credit Alex Crichton

A local tenants group is renewing its call for the establishment of a Housing Court in Rochester.

That comes as several tenants in a Thurston Road apartment complex plan to hold a rent strike so they can get the necessary repairs to their apartments, and be able to live in dignified conditions.

John Lindsey lives in second floor apartment at 447 Thurston Road.

His bathroom ceiling has collapsed, and there's black water in his bathtub, which doesn't drain.

"My ceiling started to flood on to my bathroom floor.  I called emergency maintenance.  They said they would get to it right away, and they didn't," he said.

Other tenants say they are dealing with high lead levels in their young child, bathtubs that have to bailed out, mold, lack of heat, mice, rats and other pests, and a number of other problems.

Apartments at 447 Thurston Road in Rochester

WXXI reached out to the owner of the building, Peter Hungerford of Rochester Asset Management.

He had no comment for this story.

Ryan Acuff with the group City-Wide Tenant Union, says all this points out the need for a Housing Court in Rochester.

"These issues are deep, they're systemic and we need systemic solutions.  And unfortunately it's gone too far where tenants are lacking basic protections," he said.

The city has cited the building for 38 code violations.

Acuff says the city could also issue an order to vacate.

He says the tenants have been informed of their rights and they are legally withholding their rent, in order to enforce their rights.

He says they wouldn’t have to if there was a Housing Court.

There is legislation sponsored by Assemblyman Harry Bronson that would create a Housing Court in Rochester.

City spokesperson Jessica Alaimo issued this statement: "The property initially had 38 outstanding code violations. City officials performed an inspection this afternoon, and found that 20 of the violations had been corrected, leaving 18 outstanding.

The City will continue to follow up, and take additional action as necessary. "

She adds Mayor Warren remains interested in exploring the possibility of a housing court, and all potential avenues to improve housing conditions for City residents.

"The Mayor supports the spirit and intention of Assemblyman Bronson’s legislation and anxiously awaits details for a specific model."

Here’s video of tenant John Lindsey’s bathroom, littered with debris from a collapsed ceiling: