Photo credit: @julesdwit.
A not-for-profit media organization supported by people like you.
Bill de Blasio, NYC Public Advocate, discusses his latest initiative to expose the city's worst landlords.
Sorry for the typo in transcribing the quote. I should use copy/paste. Here's the correction:
FreeButGoodPressPlease may well be correct that I or my website --- http://www.vicric.com/slumlord --- am/is "the craziest . . . in the professional tenant business."
But that personal opinion, however flattering to me, does not change the public fact of Steven E. Carter's ownership or partnership in owning my home.
Mr. Carter hires others to front for him, but his signature is on the mortgage for my building and for about ten others in my hood. I question that any third party could be hired to enter into personal debt for dozens of millions of dollars to buy real estate for someone else. Anyway, a bank typically insists on the signature of the owner, or of the CEO of the owning entity.
There is ample corroborating evidence that Mr. Carter is my landlord-in-hiding.
FreeButGoodPressPlease may well be correct that I or my website --- http://www.vicric.com/slumlord --- am/is "the craziest . . . in the professional tenant busingess."
Whether or not Steven Carter is a decent person or not, he does NOT own these buildings. This is based on misinformation provided by one of the craziest tenants in the professional tenant business. Anyone who has been through her website will immediately know who I'm talking about.
To Dave from Texas: I don't doubt that half of what you've said about Steven Carter isn't true. He may be very intelligent, he may have had a bad experience growing up, he may have helped people throughout his life. Wonderful. However, the fact still remains that the people living in his buildings are absolutely miserable. To be quite honest, you really have no input because you have no idea what it's like to live here. I'll tell you what: there are a few vacant apartments on the 4th floor of my building. Why don't you pack yourself a suitcase and come live in one of those units for the next year? Maybe then you will start to understand why the tenants are so outraged. I pay my rent in full and on time EVERY month. I don't ask for a doorman, a parking space, or even a bike rack! All I want are the essentials! Things like heat, hot water, sanitary living conditions, building security...these are not luxuries in Manhattan...these are essentials! Why is it that his company cannot provide those essentials? Why am I continuing to pay rent if those things cannot be granted? It makes no sense and it's frustrating as hell. This is why so many people are speaking out against him/his company.
So I actually grew up with Steve Carter and kept in touch with him a little as we went through college. We had a fight over a girl in 5th grade. I think I lost. Anyway, he doesn't fit these extreme things that you are imagining about him. He grew up in a pretty unfortunate situation in the underperforming side of town himself. His father skipped out on his mother when he was young, so he's personally experienced what lots of his tenants probably are experiencing right now. He was very intelligent, applied himself, and received a scholarship to Princeton. He's not one to protest about injustice or whine about hypocrisy. He'd rather just do something about it. He succeeded in real estate in the late nineties and early part of the decade, and very soon after he moved to Manhattan he opened and currently funds a school for underprivileged kids in Harlem. My brother taught a creative writing workshop at it. I believe he wanted to do more than that so he used his success in real estate to buy some underperforming buildings right at the end of the real estate bubble. When the downturn hit, his resources probably diminished, and he hasn't been able to help people out as quickly as he had wanted. He's not one to thump his own chest about his motives, and I haven't talked to him in about 4 years, but from what I know about him, he probably hates the conditions his tenants are in more than the tenants living there do. I hope that helps us to see him as more of a regular human being than the evil, crotchety or snooty, country club landlord that you all imagine.
THE TIME IS NOW FOR A RENTERS REVOLUTION .
THE LAND GODS MUST BE BROKEN DOWN NOW .. THERE LORDLYNESS NEEDS TO END ..MONEY IS EXTRA TIGHT .. WHO DO THESE PIGS THINK THEY ARE .. VACANCIES ARE AT ALL TIME HIGHS!!THATS THE GO SIGNAL ..WHO ARE THEY TO CHECK ME OUT WHEN IT IS I WHO PAYS THEM .. THINGS NEED TO GET STRAIGHT .. I MUST BE IN CONTROL SINCE I AM PAYING AND THERE ARE VACANCIES YES??.WHAT ABOUT ALL THIS NET WORK .. HOW COME THERE IS NOT A LIST OF BAD RENTALS!!! CHECK ME I WANT TO CHECH YOU!!!
Yes there are still many rent stabilized units left in the outer boroughs, that is the main problem. If you are not paying well below market rent why would you remain in an apartment that was unheated for any length of time. I have been unhappy with landlords and simply searched for a new place why would I waste my time taking the landlord to court and staying longer in an unpleasant situation. Do away with rent stabilization do away with the problem.
Here's how we handle this in Germany:
If something's wrong in the building, you mail your landlord a description of what's wrong, accompanied by a deadline until when it needs to be fixed before you a) personally order a specialist to fix it and send the bill to the landlord or b) cut a certain percentage off of the monthly rent ("Mietminderung wegen Mängeln").
You can consult the tenant association ("Mieterverein") in order to determine correct deadlines and what percentage may be cut for what kind of unfixed problems so you'll be on the safe side if your landlord tries to sue you.
So I gather you don't do this in the US / New York? Why not?
The Government's continuous subsidy to landlords who break the laws is unbelievable. (See Independence Plaza North!). When taking out the buildings from the Mitchell Lana program the landlord raised the rents while continued getting the full market price, if not from tenants, then from the Government for Sec. 8 people while at the same time collecting tax breaks. When the landlord got caught red-handed, he just said "oops! it was an oversite", paid a ridiculous fine and continues collecting zillions. When tenants make minor mistakes, they cannot say "oops!"... they are being evicted.
The new breed of slumlords try to hide their identities to avoid such tactics as public shaming. At least one slumlord has been successful on Mr. De Blasio's list. In five places, the Public Advocate lists the landlord's employee -- Vilma Vigil, misspelled in one place as Vilma Vigal -- instead of the actual owners, Steven E. Carter and Philip Tager.
Collaborating with my web site(http://www.vicric.com/slumlord),the _Village Voice_ cited Mr. Carter, and his West 98th Street home address, in its two-part "Ten Worst Landlords" article, published in two successive issues earlier this year.
His silent partner, Mr. Tager, is an active Lebanese activist in New York City. He and his wife, Joumana, founded Social and Economic Action in Lebanon (SEAL), which raises funds to build new housing for southern Lebanese fishermen impoverished by Israeli bombing.
Mr. Carter is the active building manager for their hundreds of millions invested in upper Manhattan and the Bronx. He sued me to take down my web site for identifying him and his wife. But he was thwarted by his own secrecy. He sent Vilma Vigil to court in his place. Ruling Ms. Vigil's testimony hearsay, the court found no direct evidence of any personal suffering by Mr. Carter caused by my web site.
Oh PUH-lease GC,
Landlords have the upperhand and continually raise rents to ridiculous levels, destroying this city for nothing but greed pure and simple.
This list should be plastered EVERYWHERE and landlords who have so many violations and do nothing about it show be thrown in jail as far as I'm concerned.
This list should be called DeBlasio"s Worst Example of Shameless pandering to the majority of the constituents in NYC (Tenants). The laws of NYC overwhelmingly favor tenants. Just look at Pete Stuy and that debackle. Most peopel who live there are making way over 100 grand and get Rent Stablized Apartments which they have lift to there children. Where is the list of tenants that use 311 and issueance of violations as means to avoid rent payment.. Then they leave the apartment building, not paying rent for months, just to do it again to another Landlord. If a list of those people were ever made, DeBlasio would pander some more and say "we should not judge poor people for taking advantage of Landlords and the system. No. A list like that would be called an unfair and immoral Black List.
Any home owner knows that things break or break down. It appears however that in DeBlasio world nothing is allowed to break down in tenement building.
As someone who lived in Tokyo for many years, I've got to object to your caller's comparision to Japan. Most rental apartments in Japan contain a very small number of units compared to apartment buildings in a city like NY. Furthermore, there are no "pre-war" buildings! Most apartment structures are relatively new compared to NYC buildings. Apartments are so small that you don't have building with small apartments carved out of formerly large ones! There are many many fewer lawsuits and legal proceedings, too. Landlords/landowners are kept in check by the pressures applied by other landlords/landowners in the neighborhood.
We continue to have to fight them in various apartments because the management's policy is not to alert, warn, undertake preventative inspections, educate or keep the tenants up to date on this issue in our building, Their policy is to wait until a tenant is infested and then deal with the bedbugs. Uggh!
i bet when they go to the country club this weekend the landlords will brag about being on this list!
Rent control? They are very few rent controlled apartments left. Rent control is not the issue. Mike from NYC got it right.
Please, Albany worked with the landlords to deconstruct many of tenants rights in the mid 90s.
I think that rent control laws cause the landlords to feel a burden or resentment, and that's why they treat tenants poorly. I am not against rent control, but I do think that it causes a tension between tenants and landlords.
I picked my last apartment based on the fact that the landlord was relatively sane.
And that means the corners he cut (shoddy carpentry, lowest common denominator plumbing) aren't as bad as the other things I experienced (leaky roofs, bedbugs) in previous places.
I agree with the caller who lived in Japan - the culture here is terrible and doesn't have to be like that.
Great project! I lived for a year in a building in Spanish Harlem owned by a landlord who is now widely known for being awful. When I was living there his violations were just starting to come back to haunt him. As far as I could tell, he was ruthlessly withholding heat and hot water in order to create turnover which would allow him to charge higher rates to new tenants, as gentrification of the area was just starting to pick up...
Soupygirl is right, the problem is enforcement and is common with most crimes in this city.
Why are there no laws limiting the amount a landlord can increase rent by for non-rent-controlled places when a lease is being renewed or for a month-to-month renting? Many tenants are scared that if they make trouble putting in complaints against their landlords, they will see large rent increases as retribution.
I'm grateful that you are doing this public shaming but outraged that this is necessary. I cannot understand why tenants/housing agencies are continuing to pay landlords who have so many inhumane, long-term violations. The government needs to change the law so that the worst violators cannot make any money while they don't uphold their obligations to the building.
Seriously, the fines for not providing heat and other infractions are a JOKE.
I guess people "speaking out" is supposed to make them feel heard?...A distraction from the real issue of no enforcement against the landlords.
These landlords are not in the shadows. They got violations didn't they? The lack of enforcement is the bigger problem.
In this culture of "Reality TV", this will not translate into pressure just some "Reality TV" time. I agree with hjs11211--a waste of time. We have laws JUST ENFORCE the laws!!
There is a Bryant Ave in the Bronx.
walll of shame?? does anyone care about being pointed at? why not arrest someone or take their land away.
Email addresses are required but never displayed.
Brian Lehrer leads the conversation about what matters most now in local and national politics, our own communities and our lives.
Subscribe on iTunes
Brian Lehrer Weekend
WNYC 93.9 FM and AM 820 are New York's flagship public radio
stations, broadcasting the finest programs from NPR and PRI, as well as a wide range of award-winning local
programming. WNYC is a division of
New York Public Radio.