He’s making a list, he’s checking it twice, he’s gonna find out who’s naughty or nice … or, maybe, just naughty.
Public Advocate Jumaane Williams has released his annual Worst Landlord Watchlist, naming 100 of the city’s most-negligent landlords based on the number of outstanding Department of Buildings and Department of Housing Preservation and Development violations they have — and things are perhaps worse than ever.
The 626 buildings owned by the 100 worst landlords had a whopping 69,081 violations between them — the most violations in history, per Williams’ office. Those violations range in severity from minor — leaky faucets or broken window trim — to “immediately hazardous” — roach infestations, untreated mold, broken doors and windows.
Brooklyn is home to the highest number of buildings owned by “bad landlords” — 270 of the 626 buildings are located in Kings County, with an average number of 105 violations per building, according to data compiled by the PA’s office. Next door, Queens had a smaller number of buildings on the list but a much higher violation average, with 186 average violations across just 26 buildings.
“Across the city, housing costs are up and housing quality is down. Rents are becoming unaffordable and conditions are becoming unlivable,” Williams said in a statement. “The only explanation for this is that landlords are putting profits over people, and prioritizing circumventing or repealing housing laws rather than following them.”
Three of the city’s top five worst landlords own buildings in Brooklyn, according to the watchlist. The fifth-worst landlord, Jacob Bistricer, owns 13 Brooklyn apartment buildings with a total of 544 units and 1404 open HPD violations between them.
Bistricer’s offending buildings — which he owns through Renaissance Equity Holding, LLC – are concentrated along New York and Brooklyn avenues in East Flatbush. According to city records, dozens of HPD violations have been recorded at one of his properties, 1415 New York Avenue, in just the last few months, with tenants complaining of water leaks, mold, mice, and more.
The list includes landlords long at odds with their tenants, like #41, Jonathan Wiener, who owns 1402 and 1408 Sterling Place in Crown Heights. Tenants at the two neighboring buildings started a rent strike last spring, telling Brooklyn Paper at the time that they struggled to get the landlord to perform basic maintenance like repairing long-broken refrigerators or patching holes in the ceiling. At #61 is Sara Dukler, who manages nearby 1392 Sterling Place, where residents, fed up with unresponsive management and poor conditions, are attempting to purchase their building as a cooperative.
Near the bottom of the list is Prashanth Rayapudi, who has 11 Brooklyn buildings with 457 HPD violations between them. Rayapudi owns four of the buildings through an LLC called Townhouse Rental II, LLC, which is associated with Greenbrook Partners — a predatory company with a history of buying large numbers of buildings and hiking the rents, effectively kicking out their tenants.
“To combat both the specific conditions that threaten the well-being of tenants in these buildings and the overall trends that deepen this citywide crisis, we need to meet this crisis with strong regulations and real consequences,” Williams said. “That means the city needs to dismiss disingenuous arguments from bad actors, and invest more resources for enforcement, not cut what we have.”
Last summer, Williams introduced legislation in the New York City Council that would increase penalties for HPD violations — and prevent certain landlords from “self-certifying” corrections to violations without an inspection.
At the Dec. 21 city council meeting, Williams plans to introduce a second bill that would force HPD to respond to complaints and violations more quickly. Together, the bills form the “Worst Landlord Accountability Act.” The PA first introduced the act in 2020, but the bills did not pass before the end of the session.
Notably absent from the list was Jason Korn, the Brooklyn landlord who was named the city’s worst in 2019 and 2020. At the time, Korn managed 13 properties in the borough, with a combined 2,877 HPD violations.
HPD eventually found that Korn had exhibited “gross negligence,” and in 2021 reached a settlement with the landlord — requiring that he pony up $235,000 in civil penalties and correct all active violations within 3 months.