The Real Deal New York

South Bronx tenants sue landlord Seth Miller, alleging unsafe conditions and rats

Tenants, Letitia James want a judge to appoint an administrator for the building
December 15, 2016 08:41AM

919 Prospect Avenue and Letitia James

More than two dozen tenants are suing landlord Seth Miller, claiming he’s created a slew of unsafe conditions — including mold, damaged ceilings, lack of heat and hot water and a rat infestation — at 919 Prospect Avenue in the South Bronx.

“The landlord has demolished the bathroom leaving rats, vermin, as well as lead dust,” Leander Hardaway, a tenant of the rent-stabilized building, told Politico.

In a complaint filed in Bronx Housing Court, the 29 tenants asked a judge to appoint an administrator to manage the building, which Miller bought for $3.7 million in 2011, public records show. Under such an arrangement, Miller would still own the building, and be required to pay taxes and mortgage payments. But he would not collect rent. The suit, which lists the city as a defendant, seeks compensation of at least $2,000 for each apartment where violations occurred.

At a rally Wednesday, Public Advocate Letitia James said her “Worst Landlords Watchlist,” where Miller ranked 36 last year with 542 open violations, was created to put landlords like him “on notice.”

“Seth Miller is one of far too many New York landlords taking advantage of the city’s worst crises — affordable housing — since the Great Depression,” she said. “Enough with the caved in ceilings and freezing apartments… Enough with the rodents. Enough is enough.”

Many landlords have criticized the “worst landlord” list, which is based on the number of active violations. They note that it often contains errors and does not account for violations that were inherited from prior owners. [Politico]E.B. Solomont