REAL ESTATE

NYC’s worst landlord has 3,293 open violations across 306 apartments

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The building at 410 West 46th Street is owned by Johnathan Santana and Daniel Ohebshalom. Tenants won a court battle to remedy unsafe conditions in the building, now placed under control by an outside administrator. Streetview of 410 West 46th Street © 2023 Google Maps

New York City’s worst landlord broke the city’s record for most open housing violations two years in a row. NYC Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams on Wednesday released the 2023 “Worst Landlord Watchlist,” an annual list exposing the city’s most negligent property owners and ranking them by the number of hazardous housing violations in their buildings. Johnathan Santana took the number one spot for the second year in a row, breaking last year’s record of 2,980 violations with a whopping 3,293 open violations across 306 separate apartments.

Santana, who works under infamous landlord Daniel Ohebshalom, beat the city’s open housing violation record for the second year in a row. Since Santana first topped last year’s list, Ohebshalom has faced an increase in legal action and has settled three separate lawsuits with the city over dangerous conditions at his properties in recent months for a total of $4.2 million.

While Santana and Ohebshalom led the pack of worst landlords by a wide margin, more than a dozen property owners across the city averaged over 1,000 open violations. The top five worst individual landlords of 2023 include:

  • Johnathan Santana and Daniel Ohebshalom, with an average of 3,293 HPD open violations
  • David Tennenbaum, with an average of 2,416 HPD open violations
  • Larry Hirchfield, with an average of 1,394 HPD open violations
  • Sima Abdavies, with an average of 1,372 HPD open violations
  • Alfred Thompson, with an average of 1,341 HPD open violations

“Johnathan Santana and Daniel Ohebshalom may be shameless in their negligence and predatory practices, as is clear in their record violations, but it’s clear that spotlighting and shaming them and other worst landlords in the city can have meaningful impact,” Williams said.

“Through tenant organizing, legal battles, and legislative initiatives, we can hold bad actors to account and deliver relief for New Yorkers facing unlivable conditions and declining unaffordable rents. We need to ensure other landlords on the list that accountability and change go beyond the top spot to landlords throughout the list and the city.”

Image courtesy of Benny Polatseck | Mayoral Photography Office on Flickr

The watchlist uses data from the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development’s (HPD) list of violations, which include issues like heat and hot water outages, rodent infestations, and dilapidated infrastructure. The neglect of property owners can mean life or death for many of their residents.

The release of this year’s watchlist comes just days after part of a Bronx residential building, located at 1915 Billingsley Terrace, collapsed. HPD data lists Yonah Roth as the head officer for the Bronx building. Records show that Roth’s real estate portfolio is affiliated with Jacob Zanger, who ranks at number 50 on this year’s list.

Williams said the release of this list draws attention to recent budget cuts to city agencies that provide vital services through HPD. In May, the Adams administration reported a vacancy rate of 15 percent at HPD, with 115 inspector positions vacant. In September, the mayor’s Management Report showed that response times to “non-emergency” violations had slowed due to these vacancies.

“I’m glad that the city has been able to bring some consequences for landlord negligence in the last year. Delivering greater accountability for tenants will require the resources to conduct inspections and to enforce against the worst landlords in our city,” Williams said.

“Widespread budget cuts to city services and agencies like HPD are dangerous and will weaken our ability to make buildings safe and make landlords pay.”

You can review the full list of 2023 Worst Landlords here, as well as the worst buildings in each borough here.

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