NYC Elected Officials, Housing Advocates Condemn Worst Landlords On The Public Advocate’s New 2022 Watchlist

December 20th, 2022

Press Release

After New York City Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams unveiled the 2022 Worst Landlord Watchlist this morning at a Washington Heights rally and tour of one of the worst landlord’s properties, local elected leaders and housing organizations expressed outrage at the conduct of the landlords and called for reforms. The annual Worst Landlord Watchlist spotlights the 100 most egregiously negligent landlords in the city as determined by conditions at their buildings. This year’s worst landlord, Johnathan Santana, had the most average violations of anyone in the history of the list.

“Across the city, housing costs are up and housing quality is down. Rents are becoming unaffordable and conditions are becoming unlivable,” said Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams in releasing the list. “The only explanation for this is that landlords are putting profits over people, and prioritizing circumventing or repealing housing laws rather than following them. To combat both the specific conditions that threaten the well-being of tenants in these buildings and the overall trends that deepen this citywide crisis, we need to meet this crisis with strong regulations and real consequences. That means the city needs to dismiss disingenuous arguments from bad actors, and invest more resources for enforcement, not cut what we have.”

This year’s list found housing violations are at the highest levels in the history of the list, with conditions continuing to decline even as the median rent in the city has massively increased in recent years. Across the 2022 list, there were a staggering 69,018 violations, nearly a 30% increase from the previous year. At the same time, median rent for one bedroom apartments has skyrocketed by about the same percentage. New York City has risen to become the most expensive city in the world.

Senator Robert Jackson said, "Too often tenants living in rent-stabilized, rent-controlled, and public housing apartments — are left with little to no recourse while living with broken stoves, no heat, massive holes in the ceiling, and rodents. Landlords often ignore requests to resolve these issues quickly and transparently. As elected officials, we must continue to find ways to prevent landlords from evading accountability and protect tenants from physically unsafe or otherwise insecure conditions. Thanks to the Office of the Public Advocate, the city has a tool in the Worst Landlord Watchlist that enables tenants, public officials, advocates, and other concerned individuals to identify residential property owners who consistently break City laws. Today, I stand with our Public Advocate in our fight to protect tenant’s rights to dignified and safe housing because families in New York City deserve better, and housing is a human right!"

Senator Cordell Cleare said, "I commend Public Advocate Jumaane Williams for his steadfast and proactive work to ensure that every single New Yorker has safe, decent, permanent and affordable housing as a basic human right. As this list is released today we are reminded that the old ways of building and sustaining quality housing for all continue to fail in this essential mission. Having just hosted a major housing forum entitled "The Intersection Of Housing & Race | A Look At The History Of Segregation And Its Impact On Black Communities Then And Now" I look forward to developing a series of new initiatives, in partnership with the Public Advocate, that will provide housing as a right, and make lists like this obsolete."

Assembly Member Al Taylor said, "Too many New Yorkers have suffered at the hands of negligent landlords who continue to profit while their buildings fall into disrepair. Thanks to the Office of the Public Advocate's Worst Landlord Watchlist, our city has more tools to identify law-breaking property owners and protect vulnerable New Yorkers. All tenants deserve safe, dignified housing free from fear, abuse, and hazardous living conditions. We need meaningful reforms to ensure tenants are protected and bad landlords can no longer evade responsibility for their deeds. Today and every day I stand with Public Advocate Jumaane Williams in the fight to defend the rights of tenants and hold bad landlords accountable. Housing is a human right!"

Assembly Member Manny De Los Santos said “The message is clear. Landlords have the responsibility to maintain their properties for their renters in both the private and public sector. But, far too often, landlords in my district and throughout New York City do not treat tenants with the dignity and respect that everyone is entitled to. And, we are sick of it. I applaud Public Advocate Jumaane Williams for putting together the NYC Worst Landlord List which continues to shed light on this matter and empower tenants and public officials to hold unscrupulous property owners accountable.”

Council Member Carmen De La Rosa said “With a housing crisis that has only been exasperated in the last few years, the unethical practices of unscrupulous landlords has put our city’s tenants in unsafe living conditions with little recourse. This is a business of people. New Yorkers deserve dignified housing, and we will continue to enforce protections and call out those who are not in the business for the right reasons.”

Council Member Shaun Abreu said “Predatory landlords need to be named and shamed. While New York’s worst landlords profit from the lucrative real-estate market, their properties average hundreds and sometimes thousands of violations a year. Frequently, their tenants don’t have the heat they need, clean water to drink, or an unlivable amount of mold and dirt in their building. As a tenants rights attorney, I know what it’s like to fight a landlord who refuses to change. Today, we’re standing in our roles as elected officials to call out landlords who refuse to do the decent, legally required work to keep their buildings habitable for their tenants.”

Frank Lang, Deputy Executive Director for Housing at St. Nicks Alliance, said "St Nicks Alliance thanks the office of NYC Public Advocate for releasing the list of the 100 worst landlords. St Nicks Alliance stands with tenants that suffer from harassment, lack of repairs and are at risk of eviction. Our message to tenants is: You are not alone, we are here to help.”

Whitney Hu, Director of Civic Engagement & Research for Churches United for Fair Housing, said “Another year, another reminder that New Yorkers are being subjected to atrocious living conditions because of blatant neglect from their landlords. CUFFH is proud to stand with Public Advocate Williams and his office for their continual work to shine a light on these landlords through their Worst Landlords Watchlist and portal. Every New Yorker deserves safe, affordable housing and we’ll continue to work alongside the Public Advocate to make this vision come true.”

At the launch, the Public Advocate also directed New Yorkers to LandlordWatchlist.com, as well his office’s Text Line, 833-933-1692, to learn about whether their landlords are featured on the list, how to report violations, and access resources for tenants to organize and seek relief

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 2020 to November 2021.

View the full Worst Landlord Watchlist, and check to see if your address is owned by a 2021 worst landlord, by visiting LandlordWatchlist.com.

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