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City Wants to Jail One of NYC’s Most ‘Egregiously Negligent’ Landlords

But good luck finding him! And other links to start your spring-like Tuesday.

Plaster chunks atop a child's bed at 709 West 170th Street (courtesy of 709 West 170th Street Tenants Association)

Plaster chunks atop a child’s bed at 709 West 170th Street (courtesy of 709 West 170th Street Tenants Association)

Having to get the City to force your landlord to do necessary repairs is an absolute pain. It can take years to play out through the City's arcane housing court system, and landlords themselves find robust legal representation and are often given the benefit of the doubt by housing court judges. But it turns out, there's an even worse outcome than having to get the City to help out, as tenants at the nineteen buildings owned by Daniel Shalom, aka Daniel Ohebshalom, have discovered over the years: Having the City repeatedly fine your landlord only to have your landlord continue not to give a shit about the outcome and still not really fix anything. 

On Monday, the City's Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) finally had enough and got a judge to issue a warrant for Ohebshalom, after finding him repeatedly in contempt for refusing to fix issues in his buildings. Ohebshalom can be jailed for up to 60 days unless he corrects the issues in his building. 

That the City took the rare step of issuing a warrant to detain Ohebshalom is a sign of just how bad conditions are in the buildings he owns. When reporter Steve Wishnia, on assignment for Hell Gate, went last year to check in with tenants at several of Ohebshalom's properties, they described horrible scenes of landlord neglect, from no heat and hot water, to mushrooms growing from ceilings, to ceilings collapsing from chronic leaks. In 2022, 15 of Ohebshalom's buildings in Manhattan and Queens had a total of almost 3,000 HPD violations between them. Ohebshalom is a member of a family with a reputation as slumlords that dates back more than 20 years in the city. For years, Ohebshalom let conditions in rent-regulated units deteriorate, in an apparent effort to force tenants move out of their homes so they could be deregulated. After legislators closed that loophole in 2019, Ohebshalom began to just let many apartments go vacant. Entire buildings fell into disrepair, even as Ohebshalom still collected rent from the remaining tenants. Many of these buildings are still filled with violations: Currently, according to City records, there are more than 700 open violations at two of his buildings, 705 and 709 170th Street in Manhattan, for conditions ranging from lead paint, to a rodent infestation, to defective tiling. Adolfo Carrión Jr., the city's housing commissioner, said this morning on NY1 that this warrant was part of a larger effort to help tenants fend off bad landlords, saying his department was committed to pursuing “these bums, these clowns, these slumlords.”

Listing the litany of fines already levied on Ohebshalom, Civil Court Judge Jack Stoller wrote in issuing the warrant that "all of the above violations, serious conditions all, and by no means an exhaustive list of the ongoing conditions that the tenants of the subject premises have had to endure, have remained uncorrected since November of 2022, at least sixteen months before this writing, and often longer."

It's up to the New York City Sheriff's Department to find Ohebshalom, who currently is based in California

"How is it possible that a city, a system, allows landlords to profit from their bad behavior?" longtime tenant Gilbert Butcher asked Hell Gate last year. 

Now we'll find out whether this system, which so often favors landlords, will actually hold one of the city's "worst" responsible

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