The Real Deal New York

“Dracula landlord” Leonard Spodek dies at 70

Brooklyn multifamily investor's buildings racked up thousands of violations in 1980s, 1990s

March 28, 2016 02:30PM
By Mark Maurer Twitter_logo_blue copy

J. Leonard Spodek, a longtime property owner in Brooklyn whom tenants dubbed the “Dracula landlord,” has died at 70, sources told The Real Deal.

Spodek owned as many as 56 apartment buildings in New York City throughout the 1980s and 1990s and racked up more than 4,000 violations. In 1986, he served a 45-day jail term for failing to make court-ordered repairs at his buildings, largely concentrated in Flatbush and other Brooklyn neighborhoods. The city’s housing agency also hit him with a $1.4 million fine, which at the time was the largest-ever penalty imposed over building violations. In 1990, he was sentenced to two years in prison for failing to comply with another set of violations. An appeals court, however, overturned that conviction in 1992.

His approach to managing buildings led tenants to call him the “Dracula landlord.”

Sources close to the Spodek family confirmed his death, though the cause of death was not immediately clear. Although his family is based in New York, Spodek’s primary residence was in Bal Harbor in Florida, sources said.

In the 1990s, Spodek was forced out of the real estate business amid criminal prosecutions and pressure applied by the HPD in Housing Court, City Limits reported.

He then formed a Cedarhurst, N.Y.-based firm, Nationwide Postal Management, which specialized in buying United States Post Office buildings across the country. His wife, Rosalind Spodek, currently runs Jamaica-based property management firm ADI Management with Herbert Donner, Spodek’s former business partner.

In an interview with TRD on Monday, Donner recalled living one house away from Spodek in Brooklyn in the late 1970s.

“Our neighbor in between once said, ‘Lenny, you are the best deal-finder I’ve ever met. And Herbie is the best manager I’ve met,’” Donner said.

“But Lenny wanted to be a manager.”