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Know Your Rights
Subject: Housing & Environmental Justice
Type: Media Coverage

Sour Super: Brooklyn Woman Claims Torturous Abuse

A tenant in a Brooklyn apartment building received support from her neighbors as she stood up to her super and landlord on Tuesday who she claimed physically and verbally abused her in an effort to get her to move out.

Maria Quintanilla, who lives in an apartment building on Knickerbocker Avenue in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn with her three children, rallied alongside a tenant’s rights group (BASTA! Of Make the Road by Walking) who demonstrated on her behalf after hearing how her landlord has allegedly mistreated her.

Quintanilla has lived in the building for 16 years, and she claimed after she recently asked for a lease, the super, who is a woman, took a swing at her.

"When she asked for a new lease, the super said, ‘Here’s your new lease,’ and hit her in the face," a translator for Quintanilla told CBS 2.

Quintanilla displayed a photo of the fat lip she allegedly suffered from the attack, but the building’s landlord, David Melendez, said all of her charges are unfounded.

"They’re all lies," said Melendez, who lives across the street from Quintanilla.

In the apartment, Quintanilla said there are infestations of bed bugs, roaches, and rats, which she says have easy access through the bathroom.

Inside the bathroom, Quintanilla pointed out holes along the top of her tub which she stuffed with plastic. There were also holes behind the toilet and mold on the wall. The shower doesn’t work and Quintanilla said she bathes with a bucket.

As for her complaint to the super about the bedbugs?

"What you can do with the bed bugs is put them in a tortilla and feed them to your family and then get rid of the bedbugs," she said the super told her.

Housing Preservation and Development said the building has 110 outstanding violations. However, the landlord blames the violations on Quintanilla.

"They all, they all violations in her apartment," Melendez said.

With rising rents, the demonstrators said the landlord is trying to get the tenant out, a charge Melendez refutes.