City threatens to take control of ignored apartment buildings
by: Jake Clapp
Peter Hungerford is starting to become a well-known name to people who follow housing issues in Rochester. Hungerford owns several buildings where tenants say that they have been living in bad, unaddressed conditions, like sewage backing up in their apartments, mold, and electrical problems.
Last month, tenants at 447 Thurston Road started a rent strike. And on Monday, renters at 967 Chili Avenue, some of whom are joining the rent strike, held a small rally to highlight their own building’s problems, including a ceiling falling apart in the building’s entrance way, reports of infestation, and broken windows. The 15-unit building currently has 15 outstanding code violations.
Those actions have gotten the City of Rochester’s attention. The city has threatened to take five of Hungerford’s buildings into receivership if past-due violations aren’t addressed. Through receivership, the city or a third party would take control of the building, collect rent from tenants, and get repairs made in the building. Hungerford was given an April 1 deadline.
“What we’ve seen is that when tenants have gone public in other buildings, the city has responded,” said Ryan Acuff, an organizer with the City-Wide Tenant Union. “And through that, the landlord is taking certain things more seriously.”