The Real Deal New York

Inwood landlord of building with 444 violations blames tenants

February 22, 2014 04:00PM

 A residential building at 92 Nagle Avenue in Inwood has 444 open city violations, more than all but one other building in the city. But the building’s landlord, Abraham Benelyahou, claims that it’s his tenants that are the problem.

“They can’t pay rent,” the 63-year-old landlord said of his tenants. “They break things, then call the inspectors. Some city inspectors aren’t qualified to be shoemakers.”

However, many of the six-story building’s residents stopped paying rent in protest after having spent nearly a year without cooking gas, according to the New York Daily News.

Tenants also claim that a perpetually broken door has led to multiple robberies in the building.

“How many times have I fixed the door? Each time, it costs me $750. They come and kick it back open,” Benelyahou told the Daily News . “The tenants are problems.”

Residents have taken Benelyahou to Housing Court, hoping that the city will seize the delinquent property — something that the city seldom does. [NYDN]Christopher Cameron

  • Cuz that’s not Greedy

    It happens. They call it in and you are stuck with an obscene number in the hundreds that make for great press but you need to look at the violations. The original article is way too vague. It just makes the landlord look irresponsible and unrealistic. First, he shouldn’t care about public opinion because that expectation of public justice and support is like blood to sharks and secondly, if he really feels that he is in the right, he should ask that the article offer the link to his youtube account if he recorded them or blog page where he can list every violation and his explanation and photographs because I guarantee that his tenants will smear him personally because what is obscene and disgusting to do to an innocent human being is perfectly fine if they are the landlord. No one will care.

    I have recordings indicating that my tenants committed perjury in housing court and in a civil lawsuit but my attorney said it would be cheaper to not defend ourselves when the fines and penalties got wiped. But this was just an injustice upon a far greater and absolutely unacceptable crime and without correction, it simply goes against being raised morally. It becomes an issue of not fighting back and becoming a party to wrongdoing and worse – social decay. Silence becomes a crime. It becomes participation in one’s own bullying.

    I personally am okay with defending myself but I really feel the need that other people who I suspect are being bullied should have some third party who can guess what really happened to them BLOCK the automatic response that it is open season on slumlords. There have to be unthanked unlauded good ones up there in the Bronx because frankly, I don’t see any money in doing it for so many generations.

    Our locks get sabotaged too and it is cruel/expensive and that’s why the locks are broken and it is not an accident when you have the same door or the same window installed at the same time but certain tenants demand repairs that they probably caused cuz it’s funny. Classy stuff – you can’t imagine.

    And then when nice respectable friends who would never do this to other people given the chance to get away with it see what happened to their schoolmate “Slumlord,” well, it just … may be awful to watch someone decompress after 4.5 hours of nurturing to slowly randomly dribble out “oh, and they did this a few years ago” and “recently they did this” and “they previously said this” and this is just malevolence from one apartment with one older married couple and it slowly dawns on the listeners that a vicious wicked thing was done to this person who has NEVER hurt a tenant and they’re getting away with it and they still do it and they’re smug about it – a pair of seemingly sympathetic and officially vulnerable rent regulated tenants.

    That kind of knotting up from years of battering and abuse should not be part of the Landlord’s job description.

    How would any of you feel if someone did this to you? Compared to what they complain about – one day they want a second handrail, the next they despise it because it makes the stairway narrower (one handrail is legal), oh another fabricated flood, another broken window – people, how many broken windows have you ever had in the homes you owned? I would say most people would have ZERO broken windows in the house or apartment that you were paying for yourself. You don’t think these repairs are nastily intentional ever? NO one who reads these slumlord articles EVER question why this guy is hoarding and a fire just APPEARED in the middle of his hoardfest? No one thinks twice or questions why someone would set fire to the entire building by falling asleep with his cigarette in his hand when that doesn’t happen as often with smokers who own the homes they fall asleep in.

    Take all this data and look at it with a wide view – out of the BOX, this locked box of NYC rent regulation rhetoric that we have been pickling in for nearly half a century.

    I think the “slumlords” can survive that kind of scrutiny – even if you send violent third parties to intimidate them outside of their building when they are doing the morning garbage. But if you take the tenant conduct and just put it in its absolute value to be judged, there is no way that this conduct flies anywhere else outside of NYC rent regulations. They certainly don’t fly in co-op or private home owners renting out a unit in a two-family home in NYC. The press certainly doesn’t decry the private home owners writing in to the advice columns with their sabotaging tenant woes. But the minute it is about Manhattan real estate, about multifamily, about rent regulations, here comes the bullsugar.

    I can IMAGINE what this landlord is hinting at but he needs to be more specific. They already enjoy badmouthing him and likeminded third parties will eagerly participate given the opportunity/instruction/invitation,

    You can attack a landlord in NYC with no risk to yourself.

    But if you want one on the public pyre, put your photo id in front of the journalist’s camera. Be specific and submit your affidavits and the aggrieved owners will submit their sworn affidavits in kind.

    This can’t keep happening in NYC. I slogged through a lot of articles where there was ONLY the tenants lambasting and entirely remorseless about creating costly repairs and the articles don’t point this out and the landlords are too exhausted and too hammered and fearful – yes, people do physically harm landlords in NYC.

    Off the record sucks. This is already employed in a brief article claiming that the new mayor has “the worst case of road rage.” Landlords aren’t allowed to be anonymous.

    There are landlords alive and dead who actually have a documented history contradicting tenants’ character assassinations. But will that change anything without the entire body of slumlord smears addressed when it is about the fact that housing affordabilty has become an issue of vampirically making it unaffordable for landlords?

    Why not at least change the rent regs to reflect the income levels if this is genuinely about affordabilty nevermind the fact of past and current property ownership elsewhere by tenants which kinda indicate that they can AFFORD market rents since they can collect it from their income property.

    Is that really why bad things are allowed to be inflicted on good landlords? Because the law wants tenants to be able to own income property elsewhere and pursue their dreams – because that’s what is openly claimed as their right by airbnb tenants just like rent regulated tenants. And no one is pointing out how horrible this is for the landlord who is SUBSIDIZING your personal mahjong parlor and go to hot shower pitstop and now personal cash only hotel room. When that tourist from Omaha breaks something in your apartment, is your inner Jiminy Cricket really going to move you to bear the cost of repairs yourself?

    When was the last time – outside of NYC rent regs, – that it was okay to get third parties to intimidate or outright harm or attempt to harm a property owner?

    Has no one noticed that there is an absence of criticism when a tenant is responsible for an SRO as opposed to the sturm und drang if the landlord was directly responsible? Isn’t that super suspicious?

    • Nathan

      Well said

  • If not for rent regs

    What about when the tenant brings someone over to attack the property owner? Or is convicted of doing worse?

  • guest

    wow , this is amazing , though I’m sure some of the tenants are deviates

  • Nathan

    For anyone that knows Mr. Benelyahou knows that he is one of the nicest and most forgiving landlords in NYC. He works with all of his tenants and is very patient and works with them when they are behind in rent. For example one of the retail stores have not paid rent in over a year which equates to over $80,000 dollars in rent and Mr. Benelyahou has been working with the tenant rather than evicting him.

    As for the 444 violations, 80% of them have been corrected, and it is just the paper work that hasn’t been completed in order to remove them off the HPD records. Mr. Benelyahou since acquiring the building in 2005 has done extensive capital improvements to the building including purchasing a brand new boiler, replacing gas risers, and purchasing a water pump to give added water pressure to the top floors of the building.

    The front door is constantly being kicked in. There is one tenant in the building who orders food and instead of going downstairs to open the front door for the delivery, he tells the delivery guy to kick the door in and come up to his apartment… (cant make this stuff up). Mr. Benelyahou has spent thousands of dollars on new locks and new front doors for this building.

    The problem with the cooking gas is out of Mr. Benelyahou’s hands. This property had the gas shut off to all 67 apartments. Mr. Benelyahou brought back gas to 59 apartments within a week (replacing gas risers). The final 8 apartments without cooking gas don’t have cooking gas because a tenant called the city and the inspector came to his apartment and saw he built an illegal partition without Mr. Benelyahou having any knowledge of this. The Department of Buildings issues a DOB violation and now CON-ED will not come connect the gas (which is ready to be connected) until Mr. Benelyahou pays the ridiculous fine that was imposed on him because of the stupidity of one of his tenants. So if it weren’t for the tenant complaining to the city all 8 apartments would have cooking gas by now, which by the way only 5 of the 8 apartments are occupied.

    These are the FACTS not some bogus article written by an amateur daily news writer who has minimal knowledge of Real Estate, and has only been to the building once to take pictures and interview Mr. Javier Jimenez who happens to have the most repulsive apartment in the entire building and does nothing but cause trouble, he does not let Mr. Benelyahou go into the apartment to do some renovations then complains the building needs to be seized? Who are we kidding here? So before you start judging someone based off of one incomplete and vague article, do some research and get the facts straight. Tenants need to pay rent so landlords have the money to provide the proper service in return for the tenants. It goes hand in hand. And I absolutely agree with some of the previous comments, there is no law that these tenants need to live in the most expensive borough of NYC…

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    • so unacceptable

      Too bad no one will see this comment or very few compared to the ones who will gladly photocopy the original article and use it to smear the landlord. Landlords who feel absolute confidence that they are not slumlords should get together and compare notes and put up a blog and or youtube channel so “slumlords” maligned by an unrepentant media will be discoverable in a google search.

    • property envy is a killer

      People who happen to love “slumlords” being maligned should think about fighting back because they’re not getting any younger and they have to live with mischaracterizations and go to their graves thinking that there was never any justice to their being maligned – that someones got away with it because the cloak of being a rent regulated tenant in NYC is so strong. There is no justice unless we do something to halt this slippery slope of bullying and mischaracterization before the untimely demise of yet another slumlord who DESERVED it according to the press. What a wonderful city we live in where murderers are superior to property owners.

  • slumlord

    This landlord has another building on the public advocates lisy of worst buildings in nyc

    • oxen free

      We need to see everything placed on the internet.

      Every rent regulated building, every unit, the current legal rent, the legal full name of the tenant of record and the history of legal sublets especially airbnb, every violation and the apartment responsible for the violation to see the pattern, no more anonymous calls for violations – everything has to be documented and properly attributed.

      As a landlord, I have no problem with putting up the repairs and expenses tied to each tenancy. Is there a pattern?

      Let’s let the facts speak for themselves – who is the bad guy – the slumlord or the rent regulated angels who can’t AFFORD to pay higher rent on their six figure salaries so thank god for the rent regs but CAN afford to own income property in battery park city, sign off at closings for their own multifamily buildings, own restaurants with HUNDREDS of yelp reviews, etc.

    • smells like an expose

      does he have terrible buildings and tenants or is he himself terrible? You need to find out the facts before we can tell just by the fact that he has violations or has the worst building in NYC

  • Sethian Ken Pomerantz

    I’ve been part of management on buildings like this up there. One common problem was people keeping their windows open during the middle of winter and calling HPD saying that we provided insufficient heat. The Door things is very common. We had to replace the front door every month for the first 2 years in one building until we evicted the tenant that would break the door to let his “friends” which he sold crack to into the building.

    • widespread fraud

      WOW. That is Exactly what is going on with my Chinese building in Little Italy. I also have more than one apartment pretending to not be themselves when the landlord approaches them as in “all Chinese people look alike” – it’s horrendous.

      It’s some kind of blood sport. When did we become Spartacus? The only time the landlord is not smeared as slumlord is when they bend over backward and deprive themselves to the point of losing their building and not making any money out of it. How about losing your life to your rent controlled tenant?

  • Mark

    That’s a very bad and unpleasant situation. I also had many problems at the time with the apartment I was renting in NYC. Now I rent an apt that is being managed by a management company called XL Real Property Management and they are taking care of everything for me. From an issue with the thermostats I had to the dishwasher that needed to be fixed. It is so much easier not to have to deal with all the problems myself. I am super happy with their services and if you are looking for a help by a property manager I would recommend them.

  • The bubble has burst

    I am a small time landlord for nine years now (fourteen units) and let me tell you, my eyes have been opened to all sorts of things regarding city regulations, social services, and different qualities of human beings. Without going into my whole story, I’ll just say I started out with the best of intentions having in mind to serve the community, provide a useful service by doing the right thing, and maybe make a little profit for myself at the end of the day. Well, I have two building on the market for sale and I’ll be lucky to break even or get out with a couple of bucks in my pocket. But that is better than continuing in this thankless, dead end occupation. I can only imagine that a landlord with 100 times the units I have must have 100 times the headaches. There is a certain breed of renter out there that thinks every landlord is rich and can afford whatever entitlement they think they deserve. Well good luck getting it from someone else (that includes the ever increasing city taxes) I’m taking my ball and going home.