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Landlord Losses in Superstorm Sandy                  By Cassandre Juste

Thousands of landlords suffered damage at the spiraling arms of Superstorm Sandy, and millions of dollars' worth of damage went uncovered by insurance. Cities and towns across New York and New Jersey are still in the midst of recovering from the wrath of the storm and there is still plenty of work to be done to repair the damages caused to their rental properties. One Rockaway landlord is especially displeased with the cost of recovery for his properties.

Charles Zurheide’s property had a whopping $20,000 in damages caused by the superstorm last October.  Now to add insult to injury, Zurheide may have to fork up even more money to repair an underground city water main break..

Zurheide explains that the two inch pipe that runs from the water main to his property was broken during storm cleanup when a piece of heavy machinery used by the city crushed the sidewalk next to the home. The repair is necessary to restore water to the two-family property (which obviously remains uninhabitable, displacing his tenants and costing rent), and the estimated cost of repair is around $6,500. Because the line is on Zurheide’s property, the city holds him responsible for the repairs.

Rockaway’s Department of Environmental Protection told the landlord that if he did not fix the pipe within 10 days they would do it for him and send him the bill. He filed a claim with the Comptroller’s Office and refused to pay. “I want it fixed and I don’t want to have to pay for it, because it’s not something I did,” he said.

However, the landlord may not have a choice in the matter. Sanitation spokesman stated that without a witness, Zurheide has little chance of proving his case. Also a DEP spokesman explained the agency already forgave a $1,000 water shut-off fee and waived water bills and fees for storm-ravaged victims. While the harsh effects of the hurricane may have subsided, the storm has not yet passed for this landlord.

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