WILLIAMS RELEASES 2019 WORST LANDLORDS WATCHLIST

Dec. 16, 2019


Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams unveiled the annual Worst Landlords Watchlist today, 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 2019 worst individual landlord is Jason Korn, who rose from number 9 in 2018 after holding an average of 2,877 open housing violations each month across more than a dozen buildings over the last year. Also topping the list as the overall worst landlord for the second year in a row is the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA), with nearly 350,000 current outstanding work orders, over 100,000 more than last year's total following the installation of a federal monitor and new Chairman.

"I've been a tenant organizer, I've been a Housing Chair, and now as Public Advocate, I'm going to use my voice to amplify those of tenants suffering because of the worst landlords in our city," said Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams. "The landlords on this list have failed to live up to their most basic obligations. Through legislation and organization, through political power and tenant power, we're going to take them on."
The top five worst individual landlords for 2019 are:

  1. Jason Korn, average of 2,877 HPD open violations
  2. Nathan Montgomery, average of 1,581 HPD open violations
  3. Eric Silverstein, average of 1,144 HPD open violations
  4. Abdul Khan, average of 1,135 HPD open violations
  5. Chris Deangelis, average of 978 HPD open violations

The Public Advocate's Landlord Watchlist is an information-sharing tool intended to allow tenants, public officials, advocates, and other concerned individuals to identify which residential property owners consistently flout the City's laws intended to protect the rights and safety of tenants. Buildings on the watchlist have, on average, the highest levels of open HPD violations per unit, per month. This is the first list from Public Advocate Williams' office following his election to the office earlier this year. 

The number one worst individual landlord on the 2019 list, Jason Korn, oversees sixteen properties on the list with over 700 combined units and averaged nearly 3,000 open HPD violations each month over the past year. Among the HPD Class C Violations on his properties, the most severe category, are lead paint exposure, rodent infestation, mold, electrical failures, heat and hot water failures, and others.
NYCHA, which first topped the watchlist last year, has since had a new Chair and a federal monitor installed. Across all 326 developments, it has 342,840 open work orders as of November 2019, with unsafe and unsanitary conditions impacting the nearly half a million public housing residents in New York City. That represents a sharp increase from last year's 240,120 work orders at the close of November 2018.

"As a long time tenant organizer before joining the office of the Public Advocate, I have seen first hand what tenants live through when they have neglectful landlords as the ones on this list," said Delsenia Glover, Deputy Public Advocate of Housing Equity. "It is shameful. Landlords need more accountability, as well as stiffer penalties for the deliberateness of their neglect of property.  No one deserves to live in the conditions we've seen in these buildings."
The Public Advocate announced the list at a rally in lower Manhattan with tenant organizations and elected officials, highlighting many of the offenses which earned landlords their rank on the list, including inadequate fire exits, rodents, lead-based paint, and lack of heat, hot water, electricity, or gas, among others. The rally kicked off a citywide tour by the Public Advocate, visiting properties across the city owned by the worst landlords. The first site is run by the designated worst landlord, the New York City Housing Authority. While the agency is not included in the methodology used to rank individual property owners, the Public Advocate emphasized that its neglect and mismanagement needs to be spotlighted and combated.

Public Advocate Williams also spotlighted several of the disingenuous tactics employed by the worst landlords in order to remove themselves from the list - including self-certification of repairs without city verification and transfers of ownership among different individuals within the same entity. He announced that his office was pursuing legislation to limit self-certification, to increase penalties for failure to make or to falsely represent the status of critical repairs, and to bring transparency to ownership of properties.
Individual landlords on the list are ranked according to objective criteria based on the number of open housing code violations issued to their buildings by the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD), based on data from December 2019 to November 2019. Also listed are the 10 "worst" buildings for each borough, ranked according to the number of average open violations per month, regardless of ownership. Only Class B and C violations are counted in the calculation of whether a building meets the selection criteria. More on the methodology is available here.
"Technology and data has the power to give voice to those who have historically been ignored," said John Katt, Director of Technology, Development, and Data for the Public Advocate's office. "The Worst Landlord Watchlist is one such technology, giving voice to New Yorkers whose homes are routinely not kept in a living condition."

Expanding on his legislative and advocacy-driven solution to fight the abuses of landlords on the list, the Public Advocate spoke about the need for, and power of, tenant organization. He highlighted his own history as a tenant organizer and pointed to the recent victories in Albany as evidence of the ability for unified tenants to demand change and accountability from the worst landlords in the city, declaring that his office would help connect tenants and enable them to organize on a building, block, and borough basis. 
The Public Advocate will launch a citywide tour Monday of properties owned by the worst landlords, with more information available here.
View the full Worst Landlord Watchlist, as well as borough-specific lists, for 2019 at LandlordWatchlist.com.

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