An elderly Manhattan jazz musician believes his landlord is trying to drum him out of his rent-controlled East Village apartment.
Wilbert Perry, 79, pays $380 a month for an East 10th Street pad where market-rate rents are $4,000. He’s lived there for 37 years.
He said in February his landlord requested access to his third-floor walk-up to install a new refrigerator. A building worker delivering the appliance noticed a crack in the kitchen ceiling, and told Perry it would need to be repaired immediately.
Perry told The Post that the repairmen left a gaping 6-by-10-foot hole in the ceiling overnight. Weeks later, Perry noticed his cat trying to “pull its fur out” because of bedbugs. Perry is convinced the bugs came from the ceiling.
Perry said he reported the problem to the building super in September and was told the railroad apartment needed to be fumigated. Prior to leaving the apartment, Perry said he was told to “bag up” his valuables and leave them in the kitchen.
When he returned three days later, he was shocked to find that all his belongings had been tossed, save for some clothes that were sent to the cleaners.
“This was done with a complete disregard for my rights as a tenant and respect for me as a human being,” Perry said.
The tenor sax player, who rubbed shoulders with the likes of Miles Davis, believes the series of events was a campaign of “harassment” designed to get him to move.
Perry said his landlord even offered to buy him a house in Florida or Detroit and pay him $1,000 a month for life.
The musician said the offer struck a sour note with him because the landlord figured he probably didn’t have long to live.
“They were calculating my life!” an incredulous Perry told The Post. “I told him, ‘I may fool you!’”
Perry wants to be reimbursed $10,000 for “everything they took,” including a laptop, his bed, desk, couch, bathroom and kitchen possessions, mementos — including African-American garb he donned for a role in a small film — astrology books, a charcoal sketch and his Lehman College degree.
He filed a police report at the 9th Precinct station house Oct. 3.
But Perry’s landlord, Robert Perl, denied any harassment, and said, “This is maybe one of the most perfect examples of no good deed goes unpunished.
“We have done so much to try and help Mr. Perry. Not just now, but through the years. He’s a good man, he doesn’t have much money, so we’ve bent over backwards to try and help him. The apartment was in very bad shape. We’ve treated the man with respect. But he had a bedbug infestation.”
He called Perry’s $10,000 price-tag “nonsense,” saying Perry knew what was being discarded and that “much of the items could be classified as garbage.”
Perl, who believes Perry created the bedbug problem, admitted he offered Perry a deal to move elsewhere, but said the jazz musician can stay in the East Village apartment “as long as he likes.”
“Not all landlords are scumbags,” Perl said.
The landlord said he is willing to discuss a settlement.