The Real Deal New York

City using 1960s-era law to fight “worst landlords”

De Blasio administration wittholding rent payments for tenants living on public assistance
May 27, 2016 02:30PM

Bill De Blasio Letitia James

From left: Bill de Blasio and Letitia James

The de Blasio administration is digging deep into the past – 54 years deep, to be exact – to punish those on the city’s “Worst Landlord Watchlist.”

The city will use the 1962 Speigel law, which allows it to cease rent payments on behalf of tenants living on public assistance should their building have a number of housing violations, as a “back to the future kind of solution” to dealing with bad landlords, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Thursday.

While the measure was commonly used during the former Mayor Ed Koch’s administration, it eventually fell out of favor. But de Blasio is bringing it back, and the city has already informed eight landlords who own a combined 12 buildings that it would begin withholding rents, according to the New York Daily News.

The Spiegel law protects the tenants living on public assistance from eviction as a means of retribution. A landlord with one or more housing violation deemed hazardous to life or health would qualify. De Blasio said that if the city’s implementation of the measure didn’t have the desired effect, it would look to take the landlords to Housing Court.

The buildings in question are located in Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx, while all of their landlords are on Public Advocate Letitia James’ “Worst Landlord Watchlist.”

Five of the buildings are owned by noted slumlord Ved Parkash, who has more than 4,000 housing violations to his name and has faced dozens of lawsuits from tenants. [NYDN]Rey Mashayekhi