Tenants of 'worst landlord' in NYC fight for co-op conversion of Manhattan buildings

For over two years, tenants claim they've been denied basic repairs. Their landlord, Daniel Ohebshalom, was named the worst landlord in New York City in 2022 and 2023.

Edric Robinson

Jun 10, 2024, 10:19 PM

Updated 9 days ago

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Tenants of two Manhattan buildings at 705 and 709 West 170th Street are fighting back against a notorious landlord. They’re calling on the city to help turn their apartments into co-ops.
“If there ever was an example that we want to show not only what happens what you don’t do, what you’re supposed to do as an owner and what we can allow tenants to do for themselves, it’s right here and right now,” said Public Advocate Jumaane Williams.
For over two years, tenants claim they've been denied basic repairs. Their landlord, Daniel Ohebshalom, was named the worst landlord in New York City in 2022 and 2023. He owns over 15 buildings with many open violations. This past March, the city's Department of Housing secured a warrant for his arrest, sending him to Rikers for 60 days for neglect after accruing 700 violations between the two buildings.
“As you can see the collapse of the ceiling, many apartments here are even worse than this one,” said Gilbert Butcher, showing a neglected unit. Butcher has been a tenant since 1984. He added, “Most of the times the complaints fall on deaf ears.”
City Council Member Carmen De La Rosa supports the tenants' plan to utilize the nonprofit developer, MHANY Management, to turn their apartments into tenant-owned co-ops. “They want to stay in their buildings, why? Because this is their home,” she said. “This is absolutely feasible. Here in my district, we have the example of just this happening, we have the example of 552 Academy.”
A spokesperson for HPD said in part, “HPD has a zero-tolerance policy for slumlords who neglect unsafe conditions and will use all its enforcement tools to hold them accountable. Because of his neglect, HPD imposed fines, brought charges, and now the worst landlord has been arrested and is in jail. Our teams will continue pursuing further charges against him and his properties to keep NYC families safe in their homes."
A source close to the department says the agency has obtained nearly $8 million in civil penalties against the landlord and continues to pursue further charges to protect tenants. It’s unclear if the department supports tenant owned co-ops.
“I have doubts that it’s going to happen but I've got to keep fighting nonetheless,” said Gilbert Butcher.
Right now, tenants say they’re waiting for HPD to help set up financing for renovations of the buildings. Once that’s done, they want to establish a community ownership model.


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