The Public Advocate’s Annual “Worst Landlords Watchlist” is Released

100 of New York City’s landlords are put on the “Worst Landlords Watchlist” of 2017. On November 14, 2017, Public Advocate Letitia James released the annual “Worst Landlords Watchlist”, a database started by then Public Advocate Bill de Blasio to allow residents, advocates, public officials and other individuals to identify which buildings and property owners who are consistently in violation of the law and hold those landlords accountable.

The list includes the top 100 worst landlords in the City and the 10 worst buildings in each borough. The score is based on a year’s worth of data (October 2016-October 2017) to reflect the building’s condition throughout the year. In order to be added to the list, a landlord must own a building with a minimum threshold of serious HPD violations (HPD class B and C violations per unit. For buildings with fewer than 35 units, there must be an average of at least three open, serious violations per unit. For larger buildings with 35 units or more there must be an average of at least two open, serious violations per unit. If a corporate entity is identified as the landlord of a particular property, the named officer is listed as the “landlord” of that entity. This year, Jonathan Cohen of Silvershore Properties, topped off the list with 1090 HPD violations in 188 units. Most of Cohen’s properties are in Brooklyn. Cohen’s property at 203 Hull Street, Brooklyn 11233 had an average of 143 HPD violations this year.

The Public Advocate states that the Watchlist is “a powerful tool to put these unscrupulous landlords on notice and gives tenants the tools to hold them accountable.” The Watchlist is a tool for New Yorkers to have access to quality and safe housing.

In response to the release of the Watchlist, many of the City’s housing advocacy groups praised the Office of the Public Advocate for their annual work on the list and for the commitment to ensure quality housing for all New Yorkers. Judith Goldiner, Attorney-In-Charge of the Civil Law Reform Unit at the Legal Aid Society, states that the list puts “unscrupulous” landlords on notice and the Legal Aid Society is “proud to work with [the Public Advocate] to root out immoral landlord behavior that contributes to homelessness and the affordable housing shortage crisis.”  Christopher Kui, the Executive Director of Asian Americans for Equality, states that the list “shines a necessary spotlight on the bad actors who would much rather prey on their victims under the cover of darkness.”

The Watchlist has been an effective tool and has allowed for improvements to be made. Six of the landlords on the top ten of the 2016’s Watchlist are no longer on the list, and three others from last year’s top ten have fallen lower on the list. Two of these landlords are moved lower on the list because of improvements in their buildings.

Click here to read the Public Advocate’s Press Release and click here to view this year’s Watchlist.

By: May Vutrapongvatana (May is a CityLaw Intern and a New York Law School Student, Class of 2019.)


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