NYC’s ‘Worst Landlord’ Has a Foothold in Flatbush, FTC Leaders Respond With Facts

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New York City Public Advocate Tish James led a rally last Thursday in Foley Square as she exposed the 100 Worst Landlords in NYC. James stood with tenants and housing advocates to put 2016’s worst landlords on notice and promote tenant rights. [Photo courtesy of the Public Advocate’s office.]

Worst Landlord Watchlist

Public Advocate Letitia “Tish” James released an official Landlord Watchlist on Thursday, October 13th. The list includes the buildings owned by the New York City’s 100 “worst” landlords.

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Councilmember Jumaane Williams addresses the crowd at Public Advocate Tish James’ rally to expose NYC’s ‘Worst Landlords.’ [Photo by Flatbush Tenant Coalition]  
According to the Public Advocate’s website, landlords are ranked on the list based upon the number of violations issued to their buildings by the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) and the Department of Buildings (DOB).

In a recent article by Carly Miller of the Ditmas Park Corner, it was revealed that the #1 worst landlord in New York City based on the data —  Harry D Silverstein — owns eight buildings, five of which span Flatbush, Ditmas Park, Kensington, and Prospect-Lefferts Gardens.

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Google Map of Harry D. Silverstein’s eight properties across New York City, five of which are in Brooklyn. [Source: LandlordWatchlist.com]
In his total 575 units, Miller writes, Silverstein wracked up 2,082 violations.

  • 261 Lenox Road
  • 1130 Nostrand Avenue
  • 2005 Albermarle Road
  • 605 East 16th Street
  • 250 Parkville Avenue
Flatbush Tenant Coalition Speaks Out
The Public Advocate’s Worst Landlord List is an incredible tool for tenants and tenant advocates — the list makes painfully clear the extent to which NYC landlords will go to harass tenants by not making repairs, and it exposes city agencies charged with enforcing the housing code for not doing their job.
It takes a lot of organizing by tenants and community groups, using tools like the Worst Landlord List, to get the repairs people have a right to.
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Flatbush Tenant Coalition leaders (from left to right) Lucia, Patricia, Paulette, Raymonde, and Beverley stand tall together in solidarity with NYC renters to put 2016’s worst landlords on notice. [Photo by Flatbush Tenant Coalition]
With 2010 Newkirk Ave, for example, after the building got on the Worst Landlord List, our tenant leaders organized a group HP Action — a court case for repairs, with representation by Brooklyn Legal Services.  That case pushed [landlord Moshe Piller] to start doing some of the work and our tenant leaders are very proud of that progress.
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Public Advocate Letitia James pictured above standing with Flatbush Tenant Coalition and tenants of 2010 Newkirk Avenue in October of 2014. James called 2010 Newkirk Avenue one of the NYC’s most mismanaged buildings and placed its landlord, Moshe Piller, as the 4th worst on her “worst landlords watch list.” [Source: Ditmas Park Corner]
At the same time, a lot of the repairs are band-aids at best — like plaster covering up leaks.  But that’s enough for HPD to remove the violations. Covering up the problem is enough for HPD to say the landlord’s done their job.
The city actually has a special program, the Underlying Conditions Program, where they select 50 buildings to force landlords to fix the source of an ongoing problem.  People assume the law requires this for ALL buildings, not just a fraction of the buildings that need it.
That’s why our tenant leaders at the Flatbush Tenant Coalition are also fighting to change the way the system works, to change how Brooklyn Housing Court works (our Brooklyn Tenants United Campaign), for example, so that repairs are taken seriously in housing court. That court was created so tenants could have a venue to fight for repairs — now it’s an eviction mill.
Our tenant leaders are fighting to make housing court focus on repairs again, at the same time as they are trying to get the court to enforce those repairs right now for their buildings.
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Brooklyn Tenants United (BTU) is a consortium of community organizations like the Flatbush Tenant Coalition who are fighting to make Kings County Housing Court a just, decent, and accessible place for tenants. [Photo by Flatbush Tenant Coalition]
Unfortunately, there are also many, many other ways landlords harass tenants to force them out of their homes in addition to refusing to do proper repairs: frivolous court cases, erroneous rent arrears on invoices, repeated unwanted buyout offers, revoking preferential rents.
Our tenant leaders firmly believe that most of this wouldn’t be happening if the rent laws didn’t incentivize it — if the laws didn’t allow huge rent increases in between tenants, we wouldn’t see the displacement we see now in our neighborhood.
That’s why our tenant leaders identified strengthening the rent laws as one of the Coalition’s top priorities, and they’re fighting for that every day.
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Earlier this year, a massive leak in the 3rd-floor apartment caused the 2nd-floor bathroom ceiling of 2010 Newkirk tenant leader, Altagrace Aime, to cave in one evening. The building owner, Moshe Piller, was on the NYC Public Advocate’s 2015 Worst Landlord List. [Source: Ditmas Park Corner, Photo by Altagrace Aime]
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Flatbush Tenant Coalition leader Altagrace Aime captured this photo of her bathroom back in April of 2016 after her ceiling caved in due to a massive leak on the 3rd floor. The landlord, Moshe Piller, was ranked #4 on the 2015 Worst Landlord Watchlist but did not appear on this year’s list. [Photo by Altagrace Aime]
“Yes, the violations are disappearing and HPD is removing them,” said 2010 Newkirk Ave tenant leader Esther Estime.  “But Piller’s just patching things up. People don’t want to spend their whole life arguing and disputing — we want to live our lives. But we are still having problems — my bathroom is still leaking. They patched the sink, but now it’s leaking again.
The super blames it on the neighbor upstairs saying the family is pouring water on the floor — I’ve had this problem for years, and it’s not the family upstairs who moved in just a year ago. They try to turn us tenants against one another, and that’s not going to happen.
We’re in this together, and we’re going to keep fighting. I’m still calling 311 every other day because I still have mice and roaches; the inspectors just see the patch job and take down the violations. But there are real repairs still left. The city needs to enforce the law: you give your rent and Piller doesn’t do what he’s supposed to do. It has to stop.”
#FlatbushTenants #FlatbushPower #AffordableHousing #HousingIsARight #RentJustice #BrooklynIsHome #StayInBrooklyn
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