The house of their dreams turned into a nightmare. A Harlem family that spent their life’s savings to purchase their first house is demanding the landlord — Abyssinian Development Corporation — cough up $250,000 to fix the flawed pad they say is riddled with construction defects.
Interior walls, bamboo-tiled floors and windowsills began to crack shortly after they moved in, and an improperly installed gas boiler system went on the fritz too, the family claims.
Meanwhile, rain has caused cellar walls to deteriorate.
“It’s a crock. It feels like a sham.”
“It’s a crock,” said Marleny Diaz-Gloster, 43, who along with her husband Jerry Gloster purchased the three-story brownstone on 132nd St. near Frederick Douglass Blvd. for $830,409 in 2010. “It feels like a sham.”
Abyssinian Development Corporation, founded by the Rev. Calvin Butts, advertised six “newly renovated townhouses” as part of a Harlem Village Homes II initiative that offers affordable houses in Harlem to those making below $130,000.
A flyer distributed four years ago touting the homes boasted “modern appliances, unique architectural features including a rear garden and maximum comfort to buyers looking to make a home in the vibrant Central Harlem.”
Jerry and his wife were living with their two children in a one-bedroom apartment in Inwood before they solicited the help of family members to buy the house four years ago. They shelled out $83,000 and took out a loan.
“All of the houses looked fabulous,” said Jerry, 54. “We looked at our life savings and said, ‘Hey you only live once.’”
But now the Glosters find themselves digging deeper into their own pockets to make repairs that Abyssinian is responsible for, they say, pointing to a contract of sale.
The Gloster’s say they’ve spent at least $18,400 and counting, making some of the repairs on their own, including removing a massive rotting tree from their rear yard, water proofing the basement and fixing leaks in the boiler room. Still, the moisture in the walls has led to the proliferation of mold in the boiler room.
Butts and Abyssinian Development Corp. President Ralph Dickerson did not return calls seeking comment.
But Robert Horsford, president of APEX Building Group, the contractor for the project said the homes were built according to plan and that homeowners’ issues were addressed.
Jerry’s attorney Josh Bauchner said Abyssinian ignored a letter he sent in May demanding the corporation pay for repairs, noting the deficiencies pose a safety risk.
“A lot of the situations, while minor now, will continue to deteriorate,” said Bauchner. “No one will buy a building that’s not up to code. It’s like buying a lemon of a car.” Bauchner said he is aware of at least three other homeowners who purchased houses from Abyssinian with design and construction defects, including an owner he represents and another one he helped negotiate a settlement for.