NEW YORK—New Yorkers looking for an apartment to rent on Craig’s List can now follow a link to “NYC’s Worst Landlord Watchlist” courtesy of Public Advocate Bill de Blasio.
Standing in front of a rundown Bronx apartment building on Monday, de Blasio introduced his eight-point housing plan that will hold the city’s worst landlords accountable for repairing their buildings.
The latest safer-housing initiatives will bar chronically bad landlords from receiving taxpayers funded subsidies and organize tenants in dilapidated buildings to ensure that landlords make repairs.
“This plan will help to change things. We don’t want to reward a bad landlord. We have proposals and legislations here that will close that loophole and stop giving subsidies to bad landlords,” said de Blasio.
The initiative will also ensure that a bad landlord cannot lease one of his or her buildings to a city agency and profit, said de Blasio.
Pointing to the dilapidated building on 197th Street, between Bainbridge Avenue and Pond Place, de Blasio stated that Joshua Neustein owned it.
Neustein, who also owns 11 other buildings was listed on their watchlist, was the third worst landlord on the list, with 180 serious Class B and C violations, stated de Blasio.
“Some of these uncorrected violations go all the way back to 1986,” said de Blasio. “Rodents, bed bugs, crumpling roof and ceilings, leaks, no heating, and no hot water. … A list of things that no tenant in New York City should have to live with.”
He pointed that currently Neustein profits from the Advantage subsidy program that helps to provide homes for the homeless.
2. Stop city leases chronically irresponsible landlords on NYC’s Worst Landlords Watchlist
3. List NYC’s Watchlist on www.craiglist.org as a resource for individuals seeking apartments to rent
4. Work with the New York Housing Authority to reduce paperwork requirements and streamline the process for responsible landlords who have made repairs
5. A pilot project with South Brooklyn legal services to recruit private sector law firms to help tenants
6. Extend and expand rent regulations, that will expire June 2011
7. Reduce red tape and streamline certification and inspection process so that responsible landlords are not penalized
8. Send organizers to troubled buildings to help form new tenant associations
Ten Seventy One Home Corporation that manages the building for Neustein did not respond to a request for comment as of press time.
With more than 2.14 million New Yorkers living in rental apartments, housing conditions and landlord issues are the most pressing concerns.
More than 172,000 New Yorkers called the city’s 311 hotline to complain about lack of heat this winter, according to de Blasio’s Safer Housing for New York report. The eight-point plan is a response to these complaints.
The plan includes an agreement with craigslist.org to help apartment hunters identify NYC’s worst landlords.
Located at the top right corner of apartment listings, the new feature provides a link, “NYC’s Worst Landlords,” to Public Advocate Bill de Blasio’s website. The online watch list currently has 418 buildings owned by 323 landlords.
It provides a ranking of the worst landlords based on the total number of violations to housing codes based on data given by the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD).
Currently, over 90 percent of tenants do not have legal representation of any kind.
“They go in with no legal help and a lot of the time, they lose just because of that,” said de Blasio.
Under the new housing initiative, de Blasio plans to recruit major law firms to give their time pro bono, with the help of a South Brooklyn Legal Services to provide the housing expertise, training, and supervision for the firms.
Following the press event was a media tour of the run-down apartments with tenants in the building.
“[The landlord] will send somebody over to look at it. They just patch things. The next time it rains, it leaks again. When it rains outside, it rains inside too,” said tenant Rosanna Pena, who has a 9-year-old son, Ruddy, with chronic asthma.
Their apartment has holes, a crumbling ceiling, roaches, rodents, and rats in the kitchen, and no heat, said the older son, Shawn, 11.
“I keep getting bruises because every time it rains, I’d slip and fall down,” added Shawn.
“The paint comes off. It smells bad. I keep coughing and my mother has to give me the puffer,” said Ruddy.
The family has lived in these conditions for the past six years. According to Pena, they were unable to move because they need to wait for the special voucher from Section 8.
Another tenant, Vanessa Contreras, 37, lives in the same rundown building with her four children.
The bathroom was black with mold, said Contreras, who stated that her son was diagnosed with cancer last year.
“We want to make sure that the irresponsible landlords do not benefit from government subsidies like Section 8 or the Advantage program,” said state Sen. Gustavo Rivera, who was present to support the eight-point plan.
It is important to extend and strengthen the Rent Regulation Law due to expire on June 15 to protect city tenants from these types of conditions, added Rivera.