BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — In early December of 2019, Jackie Martinez, of Buffalo, signed a one year lease with Preischel Enterprises Inc., and moved into the first floor of 468 Fargo Avenue in Buffalo.
"I was desperate and needed somewhere to go," said Martinez, who at the time said she was forced out of her apartment due to a change in ownership.
When the first floor wasn't ready for her to move in, the landlords allowed her to move to the top floor temporarily. Jackie said it had no gas for heat or cooking, and two rooms with no electric.
On December 28, 2019 Martinez said she moved downstairs to the lower half of 468 Fargo Avenue. Martinez said a hole in the floor left space for rats to come crawling in, and had to use glass from a piece of furniture to cover the hole.
"They looked like kittens," said Martinez who called her landlord, Preischel Realty. She said they never answered. That's when she contacted the Erie County Health Department
"[Health Department] told me I had to get out ASAP, because the house was uninhabitable, and [the landlord] did not get the permission to rent it out yet," said Martinez.
7 Problem Solver Michael Schwartz called the health department on this matter, and is waiting to hear back. He did obtain Erie County Department of Health violation forms that were filled out by an inspector on January 24, 2020.
The violation forms are addressed to "468 Fargo LLC c/o Preischel Realty." They state multiple violations including sewage in basement, rat infestation, wires exposed from an electrical box, furnace improperly sealed, hot water tank improperly sealed, rear doors not weather tight or properly installed, holes in foundation, broken and damaged windows and more.
There was also lead poisoning. "My grand baby, her lead units went up in this apartment," said Martinez about her granddaughter who visited on weekends.
One health violation summary form from January 24, 2020 states, "All critical items must be corrected IMMEDIATELY or legal action will be taken."
Shocked at all the violations, Martinez refused to pay January's rent. That's when she said she was taken to court by Joe and Carrie Preischel of Preischel Realty.
A court petition form, from January 2020, over the non-payment for January's rent led to Martinez being ordered to leave the Fargo Avenue home.
"[$950] is a lot to me, that's my whole check," said Martinez. She said she had to borrow money to pay to move out of 468 Fargo Avenue in early February. "I still have to pay my sister-in-law back," said Martinez.
Around the same time, in the early months of 2020, Martinez field a lawsuit against Preischel Realty to get her money back after living in unsanitary conditions. Buffalo City Court judges dismissed the case multiple times.
Adam Bojak, Martinez's attorney at the time, who fights for housing and tenants rights advised Martinez to then file the lawsuit against all parties involved. There's multiple companies connected to the Preischels.
City of Buffalo documents show that 468 Fargo Avenue is actually owned by 468 Fargo LLC, which is owned by Joseph Preischel.
Schwartz contacted Carrie Preischel through her office and personal phone, but has not yet heard back. On Tuesday he received a call from an unidentified number. A man on the other end of the line would not give his name, but said he's a representative for Preischel Realty. He also refused to state the connection between his company and 468 Fargo LLC, because it is "confidential information." He said Preischel Realty does not own 468 Fargo LLC.
The address connected to 468 Fargo LLC is 1814 William Street, which is the same address for Preischel Realty and Preischel Enterprises.
"Owners of property, owners of real estate play the shell game with LLC's," explained Bojack. "It’s a faceless corporation."
The Preischel representative did not want to do a recorded interview for this story, and referred matters to his attorney, Michael Herberger. Herberger sent Schwartz this statement:
“Ms. Martinez has attempted to collect a security deposit on numerous occasions with multiple court cases filed against the owner and property manager of 468 Fargo Avenue. She has failed on each attempt. We feel that the decisions in favor of 468 Fargo LLC. issued by the multiple judges in Buffalo City Court have all been fair and just. “
The Preischel rep said he has to research more about this property, before making a comment, but again would not comment on how his company is connected to 468 Fargo LLC.
"I'm going to fight tooth and nail until I get my money," said Martinez who had a court date scheduled in April to hopefully resolve this matter.
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