NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- For tenants in one Queens building, it's a living nightmare.
They claim their landlord hoards their trash and that the smell has caused a cascade of problems, CBS2's Hazel Sanchez reported Sunday night.
Kathleen Midlaw is literally bugging out inside her Glendale apartment. It's infested with gnats.
When she invited CBS2 to the building, Sanchez sensed the root of the problem -- a horrible stench coming from the basement
Garbage, huge bags of it, were stacked up, wall to wall in the basement of the building on 65th Place. Midlaw and her neighbors blame their landlord, Maria Hlawaty. Tenants say she has been hoarding their garbage for years.
"There's rats down there. There's mice down there," Midlaw said.
Midlaw took pictures of more garbage being stored in the vacant apartment below hers. She's been overwhelmed with gnats. It takes just a few hours for fly paper to be covered.
"The bugs go into my beverage, my food," she said. "I'm constantly trying to kill them. It has been a nightmare."
The Mandala family is dealing with the same gnat infestation. They live in the building next door, but share a wall with the garbage-filled apartment. They even put a bug zapper in their son's bedroom, Sanchez reported.
The tenants have complained to the city. Hlawaty currently has more than 30 open violations with the Department of Housing, Preservation and Development, including violations for the garbage and mice.
CBS2's Sanchez tried to speak with the landlord and her Ridgewood, Queens home, but no one answered the door.
"We're fed up. We're fed up," Midlaw said.
Some of the landlord's other open violations include ones for lead-based paint and fire escape obstruction. Tenants say they feel their lives are in danger. Some say they've stopped paying rent until they see change.
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