STAMFORD — On a late afternoon in June, Victor Perez finished his day’s work in the home office of his apartment near the top of the 22-story Infinity Building and walked into the living room.
Perez sat on the couch, wondering if the property management office at the upscale Harbor Pointe would return his call. He notified the office at 10 a.m. about the smell of burnt electricity and water on his living room floor.
The smell and water were still there, so Perez called the office again and left a second message. It was 5 p.m
About 20 minutes later he got off the couch and took a step.
“I felt a puddle of water under my feet,” Perez said. “And then they buckled me.”
Perez said he was electrocuted and thrown onto the couch.
Near the ledge of the French windows in his luxury apartment, next to the sofa, there is an electrical outlet in the floor.
Perez saw it spark – and underwater.
“I felt pins and needles in my right leg,” Perez said. “All I could think was I don’t want my dog to get hurt. So I went around the danger zone where I came from and went to the circuit breaker to cut the power.”
His wife was not at home.
“I was alone. I thought I must be close to someone because I started to feel sick,” Perez said. “I decided to go to the lobby to see if I could find the doorman.”
Perez, 42, who runs his own cybersecurity company, wears a watch that records his heart rate.
“As I was going downstairs, the clock was showing 152 beats per minute, like I was running. But I was walking,” he said. “Then the clock started ticking.”
In the lobby, the doorman told Perez he didn’t look well and called an ambulance.
At Stamford Hospital, emergency room doctors performed an electrocardiogram to check his heart. They called a neurologist. He was prescribed steroids and sent home.
A few hours later he returned.
“I was having panic attacks,” Perez said.
The day after he returned from the hospital, he visited the Infinity Property Management office, Perez said.
“I told them that this model apartment had a problem and I asked them to contact other tenants to let them know because I didn’t want anyone else to get hurt,” Perez said. “I told them I wanted the contact information for their legal counsel. They just nodded. I walked out because nothing was said.
He would learn that his air conditioner had been leaking water into his downstairs neighbor’s apartment for more than a year, Perez said.
“They worked on my air conditioner a couple of times, but I didn’t know it was because the water was running down,” he said. “I think when they finally stopped the leak in my neighbor’s apartment, whatever they did, the water came back into my apartment. He went under the wooden laminate flooring and stayed there.
His attorney is preparing a case, Perez said. He’s speaking out because AJH Management’s approach to maintenance puts him and his neighbors at risk, he said.
“They don’t fix things. They patch up,” he said. “They’re manipulating jurors just to satisfy a complaint.”
Other Infinity tenants outlined to the CT Examiner some of the problems: garage and exterior doors left open or unlocked, allowing anyone to come in from the street and break into cars or gain access to living quarters; apartment windows and sliding doors leak, allowing mold to grow; elevators regularly break down and sometimes get stuck between floors, faulty smoke alarms go off for no reason.
The tenants said they did not want their names published for fear of retaliation.
“Management is headed your way,” Perez said. “Your lease will not be renewed.”
Infinity was built in 2011 by developer Harbor Point Building and Land Technology, which is creating thousands of luxury apartments plus parks, restaurants, bars and other venues in the old industrial South End.
BLT sold the 240-unit Infinity to New York real estate investor Clarion Partners in 2013, and Clarion sold it to AJH, a New Jersey real estate investment and management firm, in 2019.
Infinity’s website advertises “exceptional service for next-level apartment living.”
“You can feel at ease with our dedicated concierge service that provides on-call support and the feeling that everything has been taken care of,” it said.
Infinity “used to be a building where you felt like you were at a resort,” Perez said. “Over the last few years it has become a shell of a once glorious hotel.”
Rents are high. Perez said he pays $4,400 a month. Apartments on the top floors cost about $1,500 more, he said.
Voicemails and e-mails left Thursday for Infinity property manager Nikki Add, AJH leasing specialist Dan Pascual and AJH regional manager Joseph Klein were not returned.
Perez said he, like other renters, isn’t sure which government agency to call when a management company or landlord is improperly maintaining a rental property.
Here’s what government officials said:
Aaron Turner, director of government affairs and communications for the Connecticut Department of Housing: “The local building official, and if mold is a problem, also the local director of public health.”
Sharona Cowan, director of social services at Stamford:
“Tenants should take these complaints to code officials, such as health, building, fire or zoning officials. Depending on the circumstances, code violations overlap with multiple departments. I would suggest calling the citizen service line at 203-977-4140 or filing a Fixit Stamford complaint here. The Social Services/Fair Rent Commission has no inspection capacity. If someone has not received any response after filing a complaint, I always suggest contacting a supervisor or director.
Lauren Meyer, Special Assistant to Mayor Caroline Simmons:
“The building department definitely needs to step in in a situation like this to address any structural issues. However, other city departments, such as the health department, may also be involved and conduct inspections based on the nature of the complaint.
City Rep. Rob Rocketta, co-chairman of the House of Representatives’ Housing, Community Development and Social Services Committee, who also sits on the Stamford Affordable Housing Trust Fund:
“If the problem is electrical, call the fire department. If it’s water, it could lead to mold, so call the health department. Call everyone and write it down. Then keep written correspondence, such as an email trail, and take it to the housing court. Tell the court you want to pay them your rent in escrow. That way, if the property manager wants to collect the rent, he has to go to court why he’s not doing the repairs on time.”
Stamford attorney Mark Sank, who has handled countless landlord-tenant cases, said tenants who don’t get results should contact city and health authorities.
“Those are pretty much the only roads they have,” Sank said. “If the problem involves mold, have someone test the air so you have proof. If you’re suffering in any way, have your doctor tell you what’s going on so you can prove it. If you as a tenant believe there are multiple violations, the state statute allows you to go to the housing officer and file paperwork that allows you to pay rent to the housing officer until things are resolved.”
Housing Court recently moved from Norwalk to the Hoyt St. Courthouse. 123 in downtown Stamford.
People shouldn’t be afraid of being electrocuted in their apartment, said Perez, who still has pain on his right side and “phantom sensations like when your arm or leg falls asleep.”
Perez said he had Infinity management remove the electrical outlet and all cables from his floor.
“I have a pair of rubber Crocs to wear around the apartment. I have a pair for my dog, too,” Perez said. “When you’re almost taken out of something in your home, your place of peace, it’s hard to get that sense of well-being back.”