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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.”