Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Carmel on the Case: Bay Harbor Islands
An arrest and a restraining order are just part of a landlord tenant dispute that's going on for several months in Bay Harbor Islands. Also in the mix, the fact that one of the landlords is an elected city official. Investigative reporter Carmel Cafiero is On the Case.
WSVN -- The view is terrific but the apartment isn't according to Nicolas Jutchenko.
Nicolas Jutchenko: "It has been like hell."
He talked to us in June shortly after he moved into this Bay Harbor Islands apartment, and told us he has had nothing but problems.
Nicolas Jutchenko: "You can't close the windows."
Nicolas says the windows are so bad he can't keep the air conditioning in or the rain out.
Nicolas Jutchenko: "When the wind blows and there's heavy rain sometime they just flop open and all the water comes in."
Worse yet, Nicolas says the apartment is infested with rats and roaches.
Nicolas Jutchenko: "I mean the rats ate my brand new couch."
He says the sliding glass door doesn't work and one night when there was no light on the stairwell he fell.
Nicolas Jutchenko: "I was taking out my garbage and it was pitch black and I took a misstep and almost broke my back doing down the steps."
Nicolas says he complained to his landlords Bay Harbor Islands councilwoman Stephanie Bruder. According to court records, the building he lives in is owned by Bruder's family.
Nicolas Jutchenko: "Everyday they would say we're sending somebody tomorrow, we're sending somebody tomorrow and tomorrow would come and nobody would come to fix anything."
And then it got ugly.
Nicolas Jutchenko: "This man appeared with a tool box and pulled a monkey wrench and he said he was going to kill me."
Nicholas reported it to police who arrested Bruder's handyman Aresnio Conde for aggravated assault. Three days later, the councilwoman filed and got a temporary injunction for protection against Nicolas. Her petition indicates Nicolas has harassed the handyman, badgered her housekeeper with questions and that she fears for her safety.
Stephanie Bruder: "My attorney told me not to say anything, thank you."
A hearing on that order is set for later this month. Nicolas then tried to get an order of protection against the councilwoman, claiming he fears for his safety it didn't work and he was denied.
Nicolas Jutchenko: "I can't afford to move out."
Nicolas believes his landlords are getting special treatment because they are given a chance to repair code violations before being fined. The city says that is not the case and it routinely gives out what it calls courtesy notices to fix violations. Although no one from Bay Harbor Islands would answer our questions on camera.
According to the city, the Bruders own four apartment buildings of the 90 courtesy notices issued for the four buildings since 2007, repairs were made and only four resulted in actual code violations. City inspectors did find one apartment in deplorable condition and another with windows hanging by a thread.
The most recent courtesy notice was for this sinkhole at the same building Nicolas lives in. It was issued three days before a man fell into the hole. The city says no violation was issued because it was repaired within the ten-day courtesy window.
Carmel Cafiero: "As for the three courtesy notices issued for violations in Nicolas's apartment, for the windows, the sliding glass door and the roaches only the sliding glass door still needs to be fixed."
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