Don’t rent an apartment from these landlords? Public advocate releases controversial and sometimes inaccurate annual list
The New York City Public Advocate’s Office on Thursday released its annual Worst Landlord Watchlist, highlighting multifamily building owners that have racked up violations from city agencies, have accrued tax liens on their properties and often have left tenants living in deplorable conditions.
“Every New Yorker deserves a safe and decent place to live, and every apartment must meet basic standards of decency,” Public Advocate Letitia James said in a statement.
According to the list, Harry D. Silverstein, who owns eight buildings in Queens, Brooklyn and the Bronx, is the worst landlord in the city. Silverstein, whose office declined to comment, has more than 2,000 violations from the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development, along with 50 violations from the Department of Buildings.
Silverstein assumed the top spot after coming in second last year behind Ved Parkash, who now ranks fifth with more than 1,000 violations from the two agencies on just four buildings in the Bronx. One of Parkash’s tenants, Yoselyn Gomez, said that her building is full of rats and cockroaches and that her daughter developed asthma from the poor living conditions.
“It’s really important he gets attention, so that tenants don’t have to take him to court, like we did, in order to make simple repairs,” Gomez said in a statement.
Parkash’s office said that repairs will be made and that inspections have been scheduled for the four buildings.
Several of last year’s worst landlords cleared their violations and either moved down the annual list or off of it entirely. Others, however, have become familiar fixtures on the list, such as Allan Goldman, who owns 25 buildings, mostly in Manhattan. Goldman is the son of the late real estate investor Sol Goldman and the sister of Jane Goldman, who runs the family’s management company, Solil Management. Solil, which owns hundreds of properties and is one of the largest landlords in the city according to The Real Deal, manages several of Allan Goldman’s properties.
The Worst Landlords Watchlist launched in 2010, when current Mayor Bill de Blasio was public advocate. Although the list is touted by housing and tenant advocates, it has not been perfect. Last year, it contained a number of errors. One landlord was listed as owning 18,000 apartments in 27 buildings—a nearly impossible figure that was later corrected. And owners who had purchased buildings and were in the process of refurbishing them—some through government-sponsored programs designed to save tenants from bad landlords—were also on the list but later removed.
This year, instead of naming thousands of building owners, the list features only the top 100, based not only on violation reports from the Departments of Buildings and Housing Preservation and Development but also information from the Department of Finance, which issues liens on properties when taxes are not paid—a sign that a building is in financial distress and likely in poor condition.
The shift was made, according to the Public Advocate’s Office, in order to focus on and investigate the worst actors. Members of James’ staff visited buildings to talk with tenants and take photographs.
Housing advocates who joined James for a rally Thursday morning where she released the new list said they hope it will create more awareness for tenants—especially ones in rent-regulated households who are being unlawfully pushed out of their units. The information also could assist in potential legal action against bad actors.