After Worst Landlord Watchlist Release, Tenants, Advocates, And Elected Officials Call For Accountability Over Dangerous Buildings

December 14th, 2023

Press Release

NEW YORK: Following the Wednesday release of Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams' 2023 Worst Landlord Watchlist, tenants, housing advocates, and elected officials have called for action to hold the most negligent landlords accountable and correct dangerous conditions in dilapidated buildings.

This year’s list, available here, was topped by Johnathan Santana, the designated head officer for infamous landlord Daniel Ohebshalom. Santana was also the #1 worst landlord on the list last year, and this year amassed the most open violations in the list’s history with a staggering 3293 open violations across 306 units in buildings on the list. Since Santana topped last year’s list, Ohebshalom has faced increased legal scrutiny, and settled three lawsuits with the city, totaling $4.2 million dollars.

In launching the list, Public Advocate Williams highlighted the recent success of tenants moving a neglected building that for years was in Johnathan Santana’s name and portfolio under Daniel Ohebshalom into an HPD rehabilitation program, out of the control of the worst landlord. He stressed that recent budget cuts and proposed further reductions will greatly inhibit enforcement actions to hold landlords accountable and deliver relief to tenants.

Video of the Public Advocate's remarks during the launch can be found here.

“It is so important to call out bad actor landlords by name for their gross negligence and apathy towards everyday New Yorkers.,” said Council Member Erik Bottcher. “One of the headliners on this year’s list is Daniel Ohebshalom, and in my district specifically we have fought Mr. Ohebshalom on buildings he owns in the Clinton Special Zoning District at 410 and 412 West 46th Street. Thankfully we just recently saw HPD win a lawsuit against him which appoints an administrator to fix up and activate these neglected buildings. It’s important for tenants to know who their landlord is, and if they are on this list. I urge everyone to read it, and am thankful to the Public Advocate for compiling it.”

"We're glad a spotlight is being shined on the worst landlords in New York City," said Mark Natanawan of Housing Conservation Coordinators. "The city and state need to redouble their efforts to protect tenants through enacting laws such as the LLC Transparency Act, Good Cause Eviction, and statewide Right To Counsel. We also urge our elected officials to pass COPA and TOPA legislation, so that buildings like 410 and 412 W. 46th Street have the opportunity to flourish again under community ownership."

"It is so infuriating to have to rapidly respond with both legal and financial support to stop evictions in Brooklyn, while tenants, especially elders of color, are living in utter squalor.  These landlords are so quick to haul people into courts for non-payment, yet refuse to make any repairs, provide working fridges or stoves, remove lead paint or mold in order to force tenants out of their homes. It's only after you've been evicted or forced out, will the landlord renovate the apartment so they can charge more money for it. These landlords need to be held accountable for all their violence and harm towards tenants." Imani Keith Henry, Lead Organizer, Equality for Flatbush

“Sunlight is the best disinfectant for exposing the unlawful and inhumane practices of predatory landlords,” said Aaron Carr, Founder and Executive Director of Housing Rights Initiative. “We commend Public Advocate Jumaane Williams for continuing to hold bad actors accountable and protecting the rights of vulnerable tenants across New York City.”

“The conditions these landlords subject low-income New Yorkers to is appalling, illegal and devoid of any decency and humanity,” said Judith Goldiner, Attorney-In-Charge of the Civil Law Reform Unit at The Legal Aid Society. “The Legal Aid Society lauds Public Advocate Jumaane Williams for producing the Worst Landlord Watchlist to better hold unscrupulous landlords accountable and to spotlight the plights that tenants throughout New York City, especially those from communities of color, are forced to endure each and every day.”

"When landlords critically neglect repairs and structural maintenance of their buildings--they put families and entire neighborhoods in danger,” said Sandra Lobo, Executive Director of the Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition. “We are acutely aware of that in the Bronx, where a building owned by David David with over 100 violations partially collapsed this week, displacing more than 100 tenants. The Northwest Bronx Community & Clergy Coalition is unwavering in its commitment to work with the NYC Public Advocate's office to pass legislation and enforcement to require HPD and landlords to inspect and remove hazardous violations immediately so that tenants can live in safety and dignity. We call on lenders to stop funding predatory landlords and enforce any clauses on mortgage agreements that push owners to keep properties up to code. And we are organizing so that residents have pathways to ownership over their buildings and land to ensure our neighborhoods are stable and can thrive over the long term."

"St Nicks Alliance applauds the Public Advocate for issuing the 2023 Worst Landlord List. The 2023 Worst Landlord List shed light on some of the landlords that use some of the most egregious practices to displace tenants. St Nicks Alliance is proud to organize and assist tenants living in buildings owned by some of these landlords to ensure that their homes are safe and free of harassment. To tenants in New York City that are facing harassment or other housing quality issues, our message is: You are Not Alone, you have housing rights and there are organization and City Agencies that can help you with your housing issues" said Rolando Guzman, St Nicks Alliance Deputy Director for Community Preservation and Policy

“If negligent landlords like Daniel Ohebshalom are unable to take care of their buildings, then it's time to give them over to the tenants. Our state must pass the Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act and give these homes back to the community. Every New Yorker deserves a safe, stable home where we can live without fear of walls crumbling down around us,” said Cea Weaver, Housing Justice for All

The annual Worst Landlord spotlights the most negligent property owners in the city, as determined by the number of dangerous housing violations in their buildings. Private landlords on the Worst Landlord Watchlist are ranked objectively according to data obtained by the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD). Landlords are ranked based on the average number of housing code violations open per month on their buildings on the watchlist, using data from December 2022 to November 2023. More on the methodology is available here.

View the full Worst Landlord Watchlist, and check to see if your address is owned by a 2023 worst landlord, by visiting LandlordWatchlist.com.

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