BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB)- What should have been a pretty simple job at a home on Lakeview Avenue in Buffalo turned into a much bigger one, and a nightmare for the home’s tenant.
“We were freezing with no heat, paying rent, still while we was not getting no heat,” said the former tenant, Evelio Vasquez, Jr.
Vasquez and his landlord mutually agreed to end his lease. She took him to court for two months of missed rent.
Up until January of 2017, he always paid his rent on time; he said after two months without heat, he had enough.
The issues started when an unlicensed contractor attempted to replace a busted boiler. In doing so, the contractor created an asbestos problem.
Assistant Director of Permits & Inspections with the City of Buffalo, Louis Petrucci explained most heating units have an asbestos component attached; as long as a licensed person is handling the area, there shouldn’t be a problem.
“In this case, what happened was that somebody didn’t remove the asbestos in the way they were supposed to,” he told News 4.
Petrucci said this case isn’t a common one.
The Department of Labor suspended the project for health reasons. To get the job done and fixed completely, would cost the landlord too much money.
“(I was) trusting in her, believing in her, that she’s going to do her part and get this problem addressed,” Evelio said of his landlord.
He and his family waited for two months without heat, hoping the issue would be fixed.
It never was.
“It was heart wrenching on the entire family to see my kids, sleeping with winter clothes on, as best we can to bundle up.”
He bought his own single heating unit, but he said that didn’t keep the house warm enough.
“Most people that use good contractors don’t have this type of problem,” Petrucci told us.
Vasquez is now in a new apartment, and working with PUSH Buffalo to take action against his landlord and the contractor.
We reached out to the landlord, who would not comment on our story. Vasquez was ordered to pay her two months of back rent.
News 4 will continue to work on this developing story.