SOUTH WILLIAMSBURG - Rent-striking tenants are claiming victory against their landlord after a judge handed the management company a deadline to fix its building.

More than 20 residents at 380 South 4th St. say they stopped paying rent in July in an attempt to rectify deplorable conditions at the complex. "They don't want to fix things," says tenant Maria Collado.

Under the settlement, tenants will be given a 50 percent discount on rent owed for the past six months. Gilman Management, the building's landlord, has been ordered to complete all necessary renovations within 90 days.Residents say they believe the apathy on the part of their landlord is an attempt to drive them out as the area becomes more upscale.

Gilman Management had been suing the tenants for unpaid rent. "My client is in the business of owning and managing residential real estate," says attorney Barry Schwartz. "You can't go that far in that business if you can't collect rent."