Real Estate

NYC secures arrest warrant for city’s ‘worst landlord’

Streetview of 709 170th Street © 2024 Google Map

New York City’s most negligent landlord may soon find himself behind bars. The city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) on Monday secured a warrant of arrest and commitment to civil jail for Daniel Ohebshalom, a notorious landlord whose track record of 3,293 open violations earned him the number one spot on the 2023 “Worst Landlord List.” The warrant orders Ohebshalom to be detained in civil jail for up to 60 days unless he complies with a court order to fix nearly 700 violations at his properties at 705 and 709 170th Street in Washington Heights.

Despite being mandated under a court order to address the problems at his two Manhattan properties, Ohebshalom continued to neglect his duties as a landlord for more than a year. The arrest warrant cites a slew of serious violations, including visibly peeling lead paint, roach and mice infestations, inadequate electricity supply, mold, and more.

“Daniel Ohebshalom has for years neglected to preserve his 705 and 709 West 170th Street properties and support tenants’ rights to clean, stable homes. HPD and this administration will continue working hard to make sure all New Yorkers have access to quality housing,” Leila Bozorg, the city’s executive director of housing under Deputy Mayor Maria Torres-Springer, said.

HPD began its litigation against the property in 2021 following inspections by the agency’s Anti-Harassment Unit which identified the two Manhattan properties as having the most violations in Ohebshalom’s real estate portfolio.

In January 2023, the buildings were placed in HPD’s Alternative Enforcement Program (AEP), one of the agency’s most effective enforcement and accountability tools. Through the program, more than $48,000 in AEP fees were accrued against the property, and emergency work was conducted to address issues like leaks, mold, and self-closing doors.

After failing to comply with the AEP, HPD filed additional litigation against Ohebshalom, seeking contempt and including jail time and civil penalties.

The Housing Court found the landlord guilty of criminal and civil contempt due to his neglect of multiple court orders, consent orders, and interim agreements to improve conditions at 705 and 709 West 170th Street. The Court assessed that the city was entitled to $3,057,620 in civil penalties.

According to the Court: “The most striking factor informing the Court’s discretion is the duration of the contempt proceeding. The Court held Respondents in civil contempt as of February 2, 2023, more than thirteen months before this writing. Moreover, the sheer volume of extant hazardous and immediately hazardous violations bespeaks the extent of Respondents’ contempt.” 

In October 2023, the Mayor’s Office of Special Enforcement (OSE) secured more than $1.1 million in penalty payments and outstanding fines related to tenant harassment and illegal short-term rentals at three Ohebshalom buildings in Midtown and Hell’s Kitchen.

HPD in November 2023 revealed that the agency’s case against Ohebshalom in Housing Court was successful and they were looking for the appointment of a 7A administrator to take over management of the landlord’s building at 410 West 46th Street.

Over the last year, HPD has filed more than 10 motions for contempt and civil penalties against Ohebshalom for failing to comply with court orders to address housing code violations at seven of his other properties.

“I want to be crystal clear, if you create unsafe, unhealthy, and unlivable conditions, we will hold you accountable,” HPD Commissioner Adolfo Carrión Jr. said. “Let this be a message to all landlords that HPD will make certain the law is enforced to protect every New Yorker from dangerous housing conditions. We will use every resource available to ensure every New Yorker understands that they have a right to live in a safe and healthy home, and we’ve got their back.”


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