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Updated on March 2 at 10:20 a.m.

The sidewalks are all but spotless and garbage is neatly placed in cans outside the long row of joined brick apartments on 65th Place between 70th Avenue and Central Avenue in Glendale — but one residence has a nauseating secret.

As soon as one opens the door to 70-15 65th Pl., the rotten stench of old garbage, mold and decay pours out. According to Kathleen Midlaw, a resident of the building since 2006, her landlord has filled the basement with trash and debris “from floor to ceiling” over time. On March 1, Midlaw discovered that a vacant first-floor apartment is also infested with waste.

“When the bugs appeared, that’s when it became unmanageable,” Midlaw said. “We have to have this taken care of. It’s more than a health issue; it’s a fire hazard. I’ll die if there’s a fire.”

Midlaw lives directly above the vacant apartment and its filth has caused fruit flies and cockroaches to invade her space, she said. Two sticky fly mats on her coffee table are covered with dead flies, and within minutes of setting a glass of juice on the table, it also becomes filled with flies.

The vacant apartment has been empty for almost two years, Midlaw said, and Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) records show the unit has two open violations dating back to 2016 for mice and roaches. In total, the building has 30 open violations including six for lead-based paint in a third-floor apartment, five for household items obstructing hallways or fire escapes and two for an accumulation of refuse in the rear yard. The building is also currently not validly re-registered with HPD, which is a yearly requirement.

According to Midlaw, some other residents of the building have been refusing to pay rent until the problem is dealt with.

The hoarding has become so severe that even the residents of the adjoined buildings are feeling the effects. At 70-11 65th Pl., Julio Mandala’s first-floor apartment shares a wall with the vacant unit next door. Fruit flies from the piles of garbage have invaded his home, where he places cups of red wine around the apartment to collect the flies and even has a bug-zapping lamp.

A fly mat on the coffee table inside Midlaw's apartment on March 1. Photo by Ryan Kelley/QNS.

A fly mat on the coffee table inside Midlaw’s apartment on March 1. Photo by Ryan Kelley/QNS.

The conditions have also caused health complications with his son, who is a diabetic and takes several medications.

“If I see someone selling drugs, I don’t move. If you don’t bother me, I don’t care,” Mandala said. “But now my son has a problem, and he might have to get an operation for his kidney. I’ve lost two houses, and I don’t care. I don’t want to lose my son.”

At 70-19 65th Pl., the worst problem has been the rats attracted by the trash next door, said 30-year resident Victoria Kovrig. The massive amount of garbage used to bring herds of 50 rats that she would see outside the building, Kovrig said. While it sounds like an exaggeration, HPD records show that 70-15 65th Pl. has an open violation for a “nuisance consisting of rodents droppings at building front.”

“She has so many violations, but she doesn’t care about those violations,” Kovrig said. “They’ll have to rent a container to throw everything out.”

The concerned residents all believe that the landlord of 70-15 65th Pl., Maria Hlawaty, lost her husband in recent months and the problem has only gotten worse since then.

Hlawaty has not yet responded to a request for comment from QNS.

Midlaw and her neighbors have complained to Community Board 5, Assemblyman Mike Miller, the Department of Sanitation, the Fire Department and the Department of Buildings. While inspectors have visited the building, they are limited in how much they can see because Hlawaty usually keeps the basement locked, Midlaw said.

When a Sanitation Enforcement Officer showed up on March 1, the officer explained that they are not allowed to go inside of buildings. The officer said they can only write tickets based on sanitation conditions in front of buildings and on sidewalks, and also advised the residents to contact the Department of Mental Health and Hygiene.

Midlaw then pulled out her phone to show photos of the problem, and the officer was left almost speechless.

“That’s inside the house?” the officer said. “Oh my god.”

An open window in the rear of the building reveals a pile of garbage in the basement of 70-15 65th Pl. Photo by Ryan Kelley/QNS

An open window in the rear of the building reveals a pile of garbage in the basement of 70-15 65th Pl. Photo by Ryan Kelley/QNS

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Emily Crocetto March 05, 2018 / 10:07AM
There are limits how far this dangerous situation should continue until there is a fatality involved because of fire created by this deathtrap. No amount of violations will influence the landlord to dispose of this horrific dumping ground while a tenant living above. A court order warrant must be issued allowing access to both the Sanitation and Fire Depts., entrance to the building and disposing of the trash. The Fire Dept. will investigate all violations within the building and, declaring it safe for the tenant living above. Finally, the tenant must open a trust account to deposit all the monthly fees and prevent the landlord from receiving any of the payments until all violations, disposal fees and inspections are completely paid. Either way, it must be implemented very soon as it is not only the safety of the tenant but the surrounding buildings who are also affected.
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