City accuses landlord Fred Ohebshalom of shoddy maintenance

Suit detailing “hazardous conditions” comes amid wider crackdown on allegedly negligent owners

A photo illustration of landlord Fred Ohebshalom along with 515 Cathedral Parkway (left) and 603 West 140th Street (right) (Getty, Google Maps)
A photo illustration of landlord Fred Ohebshalom along with 515 Cathedral Parkway (left) and 603 West 140th Street (right) (Getty, Google Maps)

Fred Ohebshalom closed out 2022 facing foreclosure on a Midtown office building. Now the city is taking him to task over the management of his multifamily portfolio.

Mayor Eric Adams lobbed a lawsuit Friday against the developer and his property management firm, Empire Management America, for allegedly failing to maintain eight Manhattan apartment buildings.

The buildings, spread throughout the Upper Manhattan neighborhoods of Hamilton Heights, Washington Heights and Hudson Heights, have accrued 300 code violations and deteriorated “to the point where they pose an imminent threat to the health and safety of the tenants and the public,” the complaint alleges.

The lawsuit details crumbling facades, broken elevators and multiple fire code violations, including non-compliant sprinklers, missing fire alarms and illegal gas connections.

“Defendants have refused to make necessary repairs for an extended period of time, showing complete disregard for the law and the orders of the agencies tasked with enforcing those laws, the complaint alleges. “Should the above conditions continue unabated, possible harm to occupants, passersby, and the general public is inevitable.”

The allegations come a year after a fire at a Bronx apartment building owned by LIHC Investment Group, Belveron Partners and Camber Property Group killed 17 people after a self-closing fire door malfunctioned, allowing smoke to spread through the building. The mayor has since pushed for better communication between city agencies to identify safety violations sooner.

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The suit asks that the court force Ohebshalom to remedy the hazardous conditions and pay civil penalties for mismanagement. Empire Management did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The city filed its suit against Obehshalom amid a larger crackdown on negligent landlords.

Adams also sued Alma Realty, a landlord and developer operating in Brooklyn and Queens, for more than 800 uncorrected violations across 13 buildings, including lead-based paint hazards and rodent infestations.

Meanwhile, the city’s Law Department entered an agreement with Sentinel Real Estate, an international multifamily owner, to remedy over 1,000 violations on a timetable set by the city.

A spokesperson for Sentinel said it had “dedicated significant resources” to resolving the issues at its buildings and is committed to ensuring its properties are code compliant.

Alma did not respond to a request for comment.

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