Williams calls on incoming Mayor to address NYCHA crisis, empower oversight agencies and support legislation to hold bad landlords accountable
New York City Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams today released the annual Worst Landlord Watchlist, which spotlights the most egregiously negligent landlords in the city as determined by their number of average open violations across watchlist buildings. In the announcement, the Public Advocate highlighted the city’s past failures to hold bad landlords accountable under Mayor de Blasio – and history as the worst landlord itself through NYCHA – and called on the incoming Mayor and City Council to prioritize landlord accountability as they prepare to take office next month.
The number one worst individual landlord for 2021 is David Schorr, who amassed an average 1,442 open violations across 17 buildings featured on the watchlist. Schorr ranked #75 on the 2020 list. Schorr’s buildings featured on the list, which are primarily located in Harlem and Morningside Heights, have severe open violations including rat and roach infestation, mold, leaks, and lead paint, among other issues. He is listed as receiving J-51 tax exemptions for several of his buildings.
The New York City Housing Authority, which continues to rank as the overall worst landlord in the city for the fourth year in a row, saw a dramatic increase in the number of deteriorating or dangerous conditions. As of November 2021, there were 600,480 open work orders in NYCHA buildings across the city, an increase of over 121,600 from the previous year. The de Blasio administration will end with a significantly greater number of open orders than when it began in January of 2013, when NYCHA reported a backlog of over 420,000 work orders citywide.
"While the top name on our list is new, the patterns of neglect and abuse by bad landlords are all too familiar,” said Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams. “With a new administration about to take office, it’s critical that we take expanded, expedited action to hold the worst actors in our city accountable. The city needs to invest the resources needed to stop landlords from treating violations as negligible, fines as the cost of doing business, and profits as more valuable than the people living in their buildings. At the same time, the city itself is truly the worst landlord through NYCHA — with more open work orders now than eight years ago — and must take urgent action to address years of failing to adequately invest in or support the nearly half a million New Yorkers living there.”
The top five worst individual landlords in New York City for 2021 are:
- David Schorr, with an average of 1,442 HPD open violations
- Abdul Khan, with an average of 1,302 HPD open violations
- Nathaniel Montgomery, with an average of 1,192 HPD open violations
- Michael Niamonitakis, with an average of 1,060 HPD open violations
- David Blau, with an average of 1,050 HPD open violations
The 2021 Worst Landlord Watchlist indicates that throughout the last year of the pandemic, many landlords have further neglected building repairs, as evidenced by an overall rise in violations across landlords on the list, as well as an increase in violations reported to the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) across the city. At the same time, several landlords previously at the top of the list have dropped to lower positions, in part after finally addressing violations in many of their buildings which led to their high rankings. However, while the situation for some tenants has improved, conditions for New York City tenants at large are still deteriorating, as there are more HPD violations recorded citywide this year than last year.
At a press conference to announce the list, the Public Advocate emphasized the need for the incoming administration to allocate the resources needed to crack down on the city’s worst landlords, including NYCHA. This includes providing expanded funding to HPD for enforcement purposes.
Public Advocate Williams also called on the incoming City Council to move swiftly to pass the Worst Landlord Accountability Act, a package of bills aimed at correcting and preventing disingenuous tactics used by some of those landlords in order to attempt to remove themselves from the list. The first would prevent the city’s worst landlords from falsely self-certifying repairs, and the second would mandate that HPD respond more rapidly to severe violations. The Public Advocate emphasized that the measures must be prioritized in the upcoming legislative agenda for the Council. Passage of these bills, he noted, should be accompanied by additional resources for HPD, which has been underfunded relative to the overwhelming need presented by bad actors.
Private landlords on the Worst Landlord Watchlist are ranked objectively according to data obtained by the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD). Landlords are ranked based on the average number of housing code violations open per month on their buildings on the watchlist, using data from December 2020 to November 2021. More on the methodology is available here.
View the full Worst Landlord Watchlist, and check to see if your address is owned by a 2021 worst landlord, by visiting LandlordWatchlist.com.