Jumaane Williams pledges to name-and-shame the “worst landlords.” But he’ll reward others for good behavior

He stressed that he doesn't see the public advocate's office as the real estate industry's adversary
By Adam Pogoff and Eddie Small | April 16, 2019 08:00AM

Newly elected Public Advocate Jumaane Williams stopped by The Real Deal’s office on Wednesday to discuss what he hopes to achieve in his latest role and how he plans to navigate its complex and often fraught relationship with the real estate industry.

Although the position is infamous in the real estate world for publishing the annual “100 Worst Landlords” list, Williams stressed that he did not see it as his job to be the industry’s adversary. He said he would look to cooperate with developers and landlords whenever possible, noting that he actually has experience being a landlord himself.

“I had tenants. I had tenants owe me tens of thousands of dollars and still force me to take them to court,” he said, “so I bring to my work those experiences as well.”

Williams did say he “absolutely” plans to continue publishing the worst landlords list and wants to see how they can give it “some more teeth.” However, he wants to try giving more publicity to landlords who were previously on the list but worked their way off as well.

“We want to look at how to reward that good behavior,” he said, “with criteria that makes sure that they actually got off for good behavior, not just because someone else was worse than them.”