Best and worst are often subjective terms, but when it comes to landlords and residential buildings, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio’s office has a strict criteria for judging the worst, and on Tuesday, December 27, it announced the buildings and landlords in the Bronx that have earned the title.
De Blasio listed 130 Bronx buildings on his “Landlord Watch List,” the second most of any borough on the city-wide list, behind Brooklyn. Buildings were ranked based on HPD violations, and all entries were found to have a minimum of two housing code violations per unit.
The 69-unit apartment building at 41/45 Elliot Place in Mount Eden topped the Bronx list with a total of 458 infractions through Thursday, December 26.
The building is owned by Ende Associates LLC. The company’s listed contact did not return calls for comment.
HPD complaints for the building over the past year include vermin, mold, sagging floors, plus lack of heat and hot water.
Juan Rosario, who has lived in the Elliot Place building for three years, named vermin as its biggest issue.
“I don’t know if this is the worst building,” he said. “But I do see a lot of rats, mice and roaches in and around it.”
Another resident, who asked not to be named for fear of angering her landlord, named vermin and unreliable utilities as concerns.
“There are a lot of problems,” she said a week after the list had been released. “Roaches, rats, everything. Yesterday we had no hot water, but today’s it’s back on.”
Susanna Blankley of Community Action for Safe Apartments (CASA), a tenants’-rights organization run by New Settlement Apartments, has been trying to organize tenants at the Elliot Place building for the past several months. But she has found that to be a difficult task.
When I came in July people told me that didn’t have any management contact,” Blankley said. “They didn’t have anyone to call, they said they were spending their own money to have people come in and do repairs.”
Blankley was able to get about 25 tenants to sign a letter enumerating their concerns with the building, that was sent to management.
However since then, a management contact number has been posted in the building’s lobby and a broken front entrance gate was fixed shortly before the new year.
The purpose of the public advocate’s list is to help apartment hunters, and hold landlords accountable. It will be posted on Craigslist, where many people find their rental apartments.
“No landlord wants their rap sheet one click away on Craigslist,” de Blasio said.
Senator Gustavo Rivera recognized that the list hit home, but that it could have a tangible impact for renters.
“Unfortunately too many of these landlords and building are in the Bronx,” he said in a statement. “But this program has helped to warn Bronxites before they rent from a bad landlord and has also shamed some into improving their behavior.”
Bill Weisbrod can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (718) 742-3394.