letitia james, tish james, worst landlords, public advocate, nyc public advocate
New York City's Public Advocate Letitia James released her 2017 Worst Landlords Watchlist this week. Photo: Twitter/Tish James

Living in New York City isn’t always glamorous, and for some tenants at the mercy of bad landlords, living conditions can be downright dangerous and disgusting.

Public Advocate Letitia James released her 2017 Worst Landlords Watchlist, an annual database of the worst landlords in New York City, on Tuesday. The list names what James calls “bad actors,” 100 landlords who “force hardworking New Yorkers to live in dangerous and unspeakable conditions.”

James said the yearly list, started by now-Mayor Bill de Blasio when he was Public Advocate in 2010, is as a way to empower tenants and hold landlords accountable, and has been successful in getting some of the city’s landlords to address violations.

“Shame works,” James said at a press conference in Foley Square announcing the list.


For landlords to make the watchlist, there must be a minimum threshold of Housing Preservation and Development violations for the building they own, depending on that building’s size. Buildings with fewer than 35 units must have an average of three serious, open violations per unit, and for buildings with 35 units or more, an average of two serious, open violates per unit.

Those violations include vermin infestations, moldy walls, caving ceilings, no heat or hot water and no electricity.

“No one should have to live like this,” James said.

The number one spot on the watchlist went to Jonathan Cohen of Silvershore Properties, who owns 188 units in 19 buildings, which have received 1,090 Housing Preservation and development violations.

In an emailed statement, Silvershore Properties said that 19 of the buildings it recently purchased were listed as having an average of a large number of open violations in 2017 and that the majority of the properties were purchased from neglectful owners, meaning Silvershore Properties inherited the violation-causing problems.

“We have done a tremendous amount of work in these properties and expect the number of violations to be reduced significantly once the HPD dismissal inspections are scheduled this month,” the statement continued. “We have been extremely proactive about addressing any issues in each of the buildings. The violations cannot be removed until there is an inspection; majority of the work has been completed and we are awaiting an inspection date.”

The data used for this year’s list includes all open violations between Oct. 2016 and Oct. 2017, and the status of the buildings will be updated every month, the public advocate’s office said, to reflect real-time changes in open violations.

The list highlights the top 100 worst landlords overall and the top 10 worst buildings in each borough. Nine of the landlords on last year’s top ten list did not make it into this year’s, and two of the landlords moved down to lower spots within the top ten because of the improvements they’ve made to their buildings.

The top 10 worst landlords in New York City

Jonathan Cohen/Silvershore Properties (188 units in 19 buildings with 1090 HPD violations)
Rawle Isaacs (214 units in 4 buildings with 969 HPD violations)
Thomas Steiner (320 units in 4 buildings with 843 HPD violations)
Bruce Haley (170 units in 8 buildings with 826 HPD violations)
Eric Silverstein (237 units in 3 buildings with 739 HPD violations)
Adam Stryker (177 units in 11 buildings with 734 HPD violations)
Joel Goldstein (209 units in 10 buildings with 721 HPD violations)
Meir Fried (131 units in 18 buildings with 718 HPD violations)
Mark Tress (20 units in 1 building with 650 HPD violations)
Robert Kaszovitz (207 units in 4 buildings with 597 HPD violations)

See the full list at landlordwatchlist.com

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