Howard tries to resolve landlord-tenant dispute

WEST HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. — Luisa Castagna Esposito has two beautiful Akitas in her West Hempstead home — a show dog named Mr. Wyndsor and his sidekick Cassidy. As much as she loves them, the pair is actually part of the problem she now faces.

Luisa has lived in the house for 13 years. But over the summer she says her landlord sent some workers to do some roof repairs. According to Luisa, when they were done for the day they didn’t even put a tarp over the work. She told them it was going to rain. They said it wouldn’t. It did.

Luisa says thousands of gallons of water poured in and she now has a big mold problem which she claims landlord Roy Tuccillo won’t fix.

“Why don’t you just move out,” I asked her? “I have nowhere to go and I have two big dogs and the majority of people say no dogs!”

The landlord’s court papers claim the dogs are dangerous and prevented his workers from gaining access to remedy any problems. (They seemed to like me).

The town’s Board of Health, the fire department and the building department have all been there. The house was actually cited as unfit for living … and then somehow “uncondemned.”

So, hoping to broker a ceasefire and a peace treaty, I called the landlord. Tuccillo. My efforts didn’t get very far. He told me to contact his attorney and threatened to have me arrested if I called back. Not quite sure how that works.

Anyway, Tuccillo’s attorney, Charles Casolaro, says, "My client has had many tenants over the years and he's never had these kinds of problems…Ms. Esposito's claims are false and we intend to fight them vigorously in court."

As for Luisa, her lawyer, Joseph Sayad, says Luisa is within her rights to withhold rent. He believes any effort Tuccillo makes to try to evict Luisa is just retaliation for the fact that she reported him to authorities.

In any case, this looks like it’s going to play out in a courtroom.