New site highlights NYC’s worst landlords

Housing code violators concentrated in city’s poorest areas

Landlord Sam Suzuki, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio

[Update: 2:29 p.m.] A new website is calling out 153 landlords whose buildings are so dirty or unsafe that they have earned a spot on the city’s list of shame. Among them is Alan Fein — whose Bronx tenants live with allegedly urine-soaked hallways, crackhead squatters and rat-infested toilets — and Chris Grijalva, whose reported roach-infested Brooklyn building has a giant pile of garbage on the front lawn.

The site, which launched today, allows tenants to look up a building owner by name and address, and displays an interactive map of alleged slumlord buildings across the five boroughs. Tenants can also nominate landlords for scrutiny; the site will update names based on tenant information and data on the worst health and safety violations from Department of Housing Preservation and Development. HPD has a list of 200 buildings that get special attention from the city because their owners have high numbers of housing code violations, but it isn’t sortable and can’t be searched by landlord.

“We want these landlords to feel like they’re being watched,” Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, who started the site, told the Daily News, which first reported the launch. “We need to shine a light on these folks to shame them into action.”

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Unsurprisingly, data from the new site shows that many of the apartment buildings on the watch list are located in the city’s poorest areas. In Manhattan, all but one of the landlords’ properties are located above 119th Street, while Bushwick, Crown Heights and East New York are among the Brooklyn neighborhoods with frequent housing code violations. The South Bronx is also dotted with New York’s so-called “most irresponsible landlords.”

Earlier this month, The Real Deal interviewed Sam Suzuki, the former landlord who spent a month in jail on civil charges and landed on the Village Voice list of the city’s 10 worst landlords.

Last week, the City Council unanimously passed legislation requiring landlords in New York City to register the names of all individuals with 25 percent or greater ownership stakes in the corporations that own their residential buildings. The new disclosure requirement represents a renewed effort to crack down on slumlords who hide behind corporate entities and make it difficult for their tenants to track them down.