By Dean Meminger - NY1
The public advocate announced Monday an eight-point program to punish bad landlords and warn apartment hunters away from their buildings, and part of the initiative involves a partnership with Craiglist.com. NY1's Dean Meminger filed the following report.
Broken door knobs, leaky ceilings and faulty light fixtures are just some of the problems residents face at 319 East 197th Street in Fordham, Bronx.
"The wires are alive, the water comes through there. I am scared because of a fire or something," said resident Rosanna Pena.
So Public Advocate Bill de Blasio toured the rundown building and announced from there Monday that he has released a list of more than 400 buildings citywide with serious violations.
"For too long, bad landlords have gotten away with this, gotten away with breaking the law," said de Blasio.
The public advocate also plans to crack down on landlords who take advantage of tenants and warn apartment hunters about buildings that should be avoided.
De Blasio has also gotten Craigslist.com involved, so that people who use the website to look for apartments will now be able to click on a link that will take them to the public advocate's online worst list.
Officials say there are plenty of buildings to avoid.
"My district has about 72,000 units of rent-stabilized apartments. Many of them, unfortunately, are buildings like this one, not well maintained," said Bronx Senator Gustavo Rivera.
Owners of some of those buildings get rent payments from the city to house homeless families. De Blasio's plan would ban them from city housing programs.
"We want to make sure a bad landlord can't lease one of their buildings to a city agency and profit," said the public advocate.
Another part of the eight-point plan is to provide free legal services for tenants taking landlords to court.
"It is a very intimidating experience, from taking time off of work, if there is language access issues, immigrations issues," said Brent Meltzer of South Brooklyn Legal Service.
Housing advocates say 90 percent of tenants do not have attorneys when they go to Housing Court.
As well as blasting bad landlords, the public advocate said his program will help good landlords get funding to make repairs to their buildings.
To find out more about the safe housing program or the worst landlords list, visit www.landlordwatchlist.com or call 1-212-669-7200.