A landlord of a five-story Upper West Side apartment building told residents that the building's interior staircase would be torn down and they would have to use the fire escape to reach their homes.
The fire escape is 10 feet off the ground.
Resident Cynthia Gowan said: "I'm 68. I'm not going down the fire escape unless there's a fire."
She said some apartments in the back of the building don't even have access to the fire escape.
Half of the tenants live in rent-stabilized apartments and the landlords are under investigation by the state attorney general for repeated allegations of harassment, the Daily News reported.
The landlord, Pine Management, told NBC 4 New York that the company would ensure the safety of its tenants.
"From the commencement of this project we received all necessary municipal permits and approvals and will continue to abide by all procedures to ensure the safety of our tenants," Jason Rohlman, vice president, said in a statement.
The Department of Buildings received a complaint last week that tenants at 167 West 83rd Street were being prevented from using the interior stairs -- the only staircase in the walk-up building -- during construction, a spokesman for the department confirmed.
The Buildings Department issued a full stop work order the same day, the spokesman said.
The landlords had already torn down the stairway from the fifth floor to the roof, the department said, and the city issued another full stop work order the next day regarding that and other issues.
“DOB responded immediately to this complaint and prevented the building owner from doing any work that could have prevented tenants from getting in or out of their apartments," the department said in a statement.
"The owner’s contractor had removed stairs leading from the top floor to the roof, and DOB ensured that these stairs were replaced the same day," the statement said. "The case has been referred to the office of the Buildings Marshal.”