NYC Public Advocate To Introduce Worst Landlord Accountability Bill After Revealing Record Violations On 2022 Watchlist

December 21st, 2022

Press Release

Just following the release of the 2022 Worst Landlord Watchlist, Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams will advance the second piece of legislation in his Worst Landlord Accountability Act to combat the practices of some of the worst landlords in New York City and support tenants in need of relief and repairs. During today’s City Council Stated Meeting, he will re-introduce Intro 862, which would require the Department of Housing Preservation and Development to more quickly respond to and perform inspections of hazardous violations. This year’s Worst Landlord Watchlist had the most violations in the history of the list, including thousands of immediately hazardous violations in hundreds of buildings around the city.

“Yesterday, we named, shamed, and spotlighted the worst landlords in our city – and the most violations in the history of the list,” sad Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams. “Today, I’m eager to take another step forward in holding bad actors accountable legislatively. The Worst Landlord Accountability Act is about preventing landlords from evading consequences and protecting their tenants from conditions which are physically unsafe or otherwise insecure. Moving these bills forward must come with additional resources for city agencies to meet the requirements of the legislation and the responsibility to improve conditions and prevent the worst landlords from continuing these patterns of negligence as the cost of doing business.”

Today, tenants can wait for excessive periods of time while struggling with immediately hazardous violations like lack of heat and hot water. Under this new legislation, the Department of Housing Preservation and Development would be required to communicate with a complainant reporting Class C violations within 12 hours, and perform an inspection, if warranted, within 24 hours. HPD would also have to communicate regarding Class B violations within 24 hours, and perform an inspection within 48 hours. No violation can be closed until it has been certified to be corrected to the satisfaction of HPD. This new and clear timeline would both protect tenants and pressure landlords, deterring the egregious negligence happening in hundreds of buildings across the city and displayed yesterday in Washington Heights.

The 2022 Worst Landlord Watchlist included a record-breaking number of violations; across the entire list, there were a staggering 69,018 violations, nearly a 30% increase from the previous year. The worst landlord in New York City this year, Jonathan Santana, had an average of 2980 HPD open violations – 106% more average violations on average than last year. The landlords on this year’s list had a combined 18,305 Class C violations, and 36,960 Class B violations, whereas last year’s one hundred worst landlords had 13,103 Class C violations and 30,549 Class B violations.

The Public Advocate has also advanced Intro 583, the second component of the Worst Landlord Accountability Act, with the City Council Committee on Housing and Buildings holding a hearing last week on the legislation. Intro 583 would require HPD to maintain a certification of correction list and prohibit any listed landlord from certifying correction of violations in multiple dwellings without an inspection. This would prevent landlords already identified as bad actors from falsely claiming repairs have been made. At last week’s hearing, Public Advocate Williams spoke out in support of Intro 583, saying, “​​As we soon move into the new year, it is critical that we take swift action to hold the worst landlords accountable. We need to invest the resources to stop them from handling these violations and fines as negligible, or the cost of doing business, and combat the notion that making profit is much more vital than their own tenants.”

The bill would also increase penalties for failure to correctly certify. A landlord who fails to file a statement of registration or an amendment of a statement of registration will have to pay a fine of anywhere between $500 and $1,000. Anyone willfully making a false certification of correction of a violation will have to pay between $500 and $2,500 for each violation falsely certified, as well as any other penalties required. Additionally, penalties would increase for hazardous violation of housing standards based on severity.

Each year, the Public Advocate's office releases the Worst Landlord Watchlist, which spotlights the top 100 most egregiously negligent landlords in New York City as determined by widespread and repeated violations in buildings on the list. The 2022 list was released yesterday – read it, and review the newly designed and expanded Watchlist website, here.

Read the text of Intro 862 here and more about Intro 583 here.

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