Watch out for Brooklyn’s worst landlords

November 25, 2015 Anna Spivak
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According to a database released by Public Advocate Letitia James, the worst landlords in New York City can all be found in one place: The NYC Landlord Watchlist.

Incorporating data from both the Department of Housing Preservation (HPD) and the Department of Buildings (DOB), the watchlist was created as a tool for residents, public officials and other concerned individuals to track buildings and property owners in constant violation of the law.

“Every New Yorker deserves to live in safety and security, and every apartment needs to meet basic standards of decency,” said James. “Unfortunately, unscrupulous landlords throughout our city are failing to uphold these basic rights – creating inhumane living conditions for tenants. The Worst Landlords Watchlist puts these bad actors on notice, and is a vital resource and tool for tenants.”

This year’s list also includes a new feature; one that will allow users to track their landlord’s housing court activities.

“For five years, the Landlord Watch List has been a vital tool for tenants, advocates and elected officials who are dedicated to protecting affordable housing,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “I applaud Public Advocate James for continuing to expand the capabilities of the list, and working hard to ensure that New Yorkers have a resource that helps them assert their rights.”

According to James, for a landlord to meet watchlist criteria, he or she must own a building with a minimum threshold of HPD violations or open DOB complaints per unit. For buildings with fewer than 35 units, there must be an average of at least three open, serious violations or active complaints; for larger buildings with 35 or more units, there must be an average of at least two open, serious violations or active complaints documented.

With 3,393 landlords on the list this year, eight out of the top 10 worst, own buildings in Brooklyn.

Harry D. Silverstein, owner of four buildings in Brooklyn—along with three others in Queens and the Bronx—came in at number two on the list with 408 units in seven buildings with 1,482 HPD violations and 81 DOB complaints.

Yechiel Weinberger, the third worst landlord in the city, owns nine buildings in Brooklyn with a combined 316 units across 11 buildings, and a total of 1,392 HPD violations and 52 DOB complaints.

Coming in at number 10, Jonathon Cohen owns the most buildings in Brooklyn of the landlords on the top 10 list with 94 units across 11 buildings possessing 834 HPD violations and 15 DOB complaints.

“Tenants in New York have a basic, legal right to safe and decent housing, and HPD will use all the code enforcement tools we have to ensure that landlords properly maintain their buildings for New York families,” said HPD Commissioner Vicki Been. “The public advocate is a powerful ally in helping to identify failing landlords who shirk their responsibilities, even putting tenants in danger. We will continue our work together to protect our tenants and preserve the city’s housing stock.”

For the full list, visit

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