Kathleen Horan, Reporter, WNYC News
Kathleen Horan is a staff reporter for New York Public Radio, covering the neighborhood beat. She also reports 'Reset', an ongoing series documenting police-community relations in Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn.
Public Advocate Bill DeBlasio is hoping to publicly shame apartment owners who’ve violated the law by not fixing their buildings. He’s added 318 landlords to his third annual list of the worst in the city.
"It’s a situation where a certain number of these landlords can defy the law and get away with it economically and legally. We're trying to tighten this system up in a lot of ways but one of the ways is these very public approaches."
He said in most cases, landlords are given a notice of violation from the city’s Housing Department. Offenses that landed buildings and landlords on the list included lead paint chipping and mold. Only infractions like heat and hot water come with steep fines. Even these can be successfully fought in court, leaving tenants to suffer.
DeBlasio posted the worst violators on Landlordwatchlist.com.
He said the exposure has helped to publicly pressure some to change their ways.
But the biggest offender has been on the list from the very beginning.
"Joshua Neustein who has buildings in the Bronx and Upper Manhattan. He's got eight buildings and a total 1187 violations," DeBlasio said.
A call placed to Neustein for comment was not returned.
DeBlasio is pushing to increase penalties for the worst violators. He wants the state to approve legislation that would institute administrative tribunals — treating housing code violations more like parking tickets.
The watch list includes 358 buildings with a total of 5,597 units.