The Real Deal New York

Hakim sues Public Advocate over flawed “worst landlord” list

Landlord claims report included empty buildings between 1205 and 1215 First Avenue
December 30, 2016 08:30AM

Letitia James and 1205-1215 First Avenue

Who are you calling a “worst landlord”?

Real estate mogul Kamran Hakim has filed a lawsuit against Public Advocate Letitia James, claiming she unfairly included him on her list of “worst landlords” in 2015 and 2016.

In the suit, filed Dec. 20, Hakim claims that four of the six buildings cited in James’ report are actually empty. Located between 1205 and 1215 First Avenue, the buildings are, in fact, slated for demolition. The suit seeks $15 million in damages, and asks for James to stop publishing the annual report.

Hakim was No. 52 on James’ list in 2016, with 453 violations in four buildings. The landlord clocked in at No. 34 in 2015 with 565 violations over seven buildings and 83 units in 2015.

“Having been placed on the watch list without any verification or due diligence by the Public Advocate as to why the violations exist has unfairly tarnished the good name, good will and reputation of 1205-15 First Associates LLC & Kamran Hakim,” his lawyer, Darren Marks, wrote in a letter to James, according to DNAinfo. “The public advocate’s watch list creates an undue and avoidable harm to those wrongly identified as the ‘worst landlords.'”

A spokeswoman for James said the public advocate would continue to stand up for tenants, “even when it means taking on powerful landlords.”

Still, the “worst landlords” list has faced pushback over prior mistakes.

In 2014 and 2015, James included Mark Tress, the owner of the Windermere at 400 West 57th Street, which was vacant and being restored.

An LLC controlled by Hakim filed a notice with the city earlier this month, warning James that he planned to file suit.

Hakim owns more than 100 buildings citywide. Hakim and Property Markets Group recently sold the Clock Tower development site in Long Island City to the Durst Organization for about $175 million. Hakim and PMG initially planned an 800-unit for the site, but put the undeveloped property on the market this summer.

Hakim, PMG and Howard Lorber’s New Valley are continuing to develop a 44-story rental tower at 23-10 Queens Plaza South. [DNAinfo]E.B. Solomont