NYC To Withhold Rental Assistance to Slumlords Who Fail To Make Repairs

750 Grand Concourse, owned by Ved Parkash who is considered the city's worst landlord, has 309 building violations. / Matthew X. Kiernan via Flickr

750 Grand Concourse, owned by Ved Parkash who is considered the city’s worst landlord, has 309 building violations. / Matthew X. Kiernan via Flickr

New York City mayor Bill de Blasio and Public Advocate Letitia James have announced that they are forcing 8 slumlords to fix what is known as “the dirty dozen” buildings which collectively have 2,075 building code violations.

Eight of the twelve buildings are located in The Bronx with a total of 1,358 violations of which 750 Grand Concourse is the worst offender with a whopping 309 violations. Most of the buildings are located in the Northwest Bronx.

 

Bronx
20 West 190 Street 10468 Agron Berisha 143
212 West Kingsbridge Rd 10463 Bashkim Celaj 141
2320 Creston Avenue 10468 Leze Gazivoda, Alex Gazivoda 138
410 East 173 Street 10457 Ferdo Skrelja 139
2015 Creston Avenue 10453 Ved Parkash 172
750 Grand Concourse 10451 Ved Parkash 309
751 Gerard Avenue 10451 Ved Parkash 188
315 East 196th Street 10458 Ved Parkash 128

Letters were sent to the landlords of these buildings on May 24, 2016 and they have 15 days from that date to comply with repairs or risk withholding of rental assistance using the 1962 Spiegel Law which allows Human Resources Administration/Department of Social Services to withhold rent payments for tenants receiving public assistance if conditions in the building are “dangerous, hazardous, or detrimental to life and death.”

According to a press release issued by the mayor’s office:

“Under the Spiegel Law, property owners are required to contact the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) within 15 days of receiving a letter from HRA/DSS notifying them that the law is being invoked and request a re-inspection and Dismissal of Violations, official confirmation by HPD that the conditions have been corrected. If they do not meet the deadline, HRA/DSS will start withholding rent payments at these buildings and HPD may ultimately take legal action. Under this law, landlords cannot evict tenants because the rent provided by HRA/DSS is being withheld.”

The 12 buildings have a combined total of 2,075 violations, 358 of which are Class C, considered “immediately hazardous,” such as inadequate fire exits, rodents, lead-based paint, and lack of heat, hot water, electricity or gas.

Last year, the City used the Spiegel Law in two test cases before proceeding against this larger number of irresponsible landlords. HRA/DSS sent letters to the owners of two buildings in the Bronx threatening action if they did not fix their properties. Both landlords resolved the violations in their buildings and rent payments were not withheld, as result of their prompt response and remediation of the conditions that HPD confirmed based on inspections.

“Landlords are required by law to provide residents with safe and healthy living conditions regardless of their economic background or income. By using the 1962 Spiegel Law as leverage, the City will pressure irresponsible landlords to fix 12 buildings, including 5 in my district in the Bronx. Every New Yorker deserves a decent place to live, and this effort will make sure landlords prioritize the health and safety of their tenants,” said Congressman Jose Serrano.”

It’s about time the city begins to crack down hard on slumlords who endanger the lives of their residents and provide substandard living conditions.

Let’s hope that the city broadens this initiative further down the road.

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