Southern Brooklyn

Tenants Give Up Fight Over Toxic Smelling Basement

Parts of 301 Oriental Blvd remains filled with a toxic oil-water mixture. (Photo by Susan Vosburgh)

Superstorm Sandy demolished homes, businesses and infrastructure, leaving all sorts of environmental health hazards in its wake. One such hazard were the toxic fumes at the 301 Oriental Blvd apartment complex that resulted when flood waters collided with oil barrels in its basement, forcing the residents of to seek less arid smelling confines.

The residents took the landlords to court after the smell persisted long after the storm, but have now given up their fight according to a report in the New York Daily News.

As we previously reported, housing court Judge Kevin McClanahan set a high bar for the tenants to clear in order to ensure success in their lawsuit. The judge demanded that the tenants obtain independent environmental testing and subpoena the tests performed by the Environmental Protection Agency.

These procedures proved too high a hurdle for the tenants battling the Hampshire Properties group.

“It cost too much for us,” tenant Viktor Berlyavsky said to the Daily News. His wife Tamara echoed Viktor’s resignation, “We are out of options — and we’re worried about our health.”

Avi Peison, the lawyer representing Hampshire Properties had the good taste not to take a victory lap.

“There is no winner here…Both landlord and tenants have suffered as a result of Hurricane Sandy.”

While tenants noted that the smell still lingers, albeit decreased in strength, Peison insisted that the smell is gone save a mild odor still present in the oil room in the basement.

Peison also noted that the landlords have spent hundreds of thousands in repairs while waiving $50,000 in rent fees for November.

While the lawsuit is over, some tenants still unable to stand the smell were left with little option but to leave. Three have broken their leases and moved out while others are actively looking to leave for new apartments as soon as they can find them.

Comment policy


  1. It was heating oil. For the heater.
    The landlord did have air quality tests performed throughout the property as required by the Environmental Protection Agency and it was deemed safe.

  2. why are so many tenants moving out if it doesnt smell? some people are more sensitive and will get sick from the toxic fumes while others will not…something def smells fishy here but the tenants should have paid for the air to be tested otherwise its just one persons word for it against another!

  3. There aren’t so many tenants moving out. Over 90% of the tenants are staying. There is no smell in the building. I was told that that the Landlord generously waived November rent for all of the tenants. The tenants therefore had plenty of money if they wanted to do air testing. The reason they did not pursue this matter was because there was nothing to pursue- there are no fumes or smells.

Comments are closed.