New York City’s worst landlord has begun a two-month sentence at Rikers after refusing to correct more than 700 housing violations between his two Manhattan properties. Daniel Ohebshalom surrendered to authorities on Thursday, two weeks after housing court judge Jack Stoller issued a warrant for his arrest.

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New York City‘s worst landlord has begun a two-month sentence at Rikers after refusing to correct more than 700 housing violations between his two Manhattan properties. Daniel Ohebshalom surrendered to authorities on Thursday, two weeks after housing court judge Jack Stoller issued a warrant for his arrest.

Judge Jack Stoller

“The most striking factor informing the Court’s discretion is the duration of the contempt proceeding,” Stoller said in the arrest warrant.”The Court held [Ohebshalom] in civil contempt as of February 2, 2023, more than thirteen months before this writing.”

“The sheer volume of extant hazardous and immediately hazardous violations bespeaks the extent of Respondents’ contempt,” he said.

The New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) began investigating Ohebshalom in 2021 when the department’s Anti-Harassment Unit identified several critical violations at both of his properties, including the presence of lead-based paint, widespread mold, chronic rat infestations, leaky plumbing and inadequate electricity supply.

Ohebshalom refused to make the needed repairs, which resulted in the landlord racking up more than 700 violations. Two years later, the HPD’s Alternative Enforcement Program (AEP) completed emergency repairs on faulty plumbing, mold and self-closing doors. The AEP charged $48,000 in fees for their work.

Ohebshalom refused to pay the fees, which led the HPD to seek jail time and civil penalties totaling more than $3 million in February 2023. Ohebshalom racked up another $1.8 million in penalties and fines by November 2023, leading HPD to appoint an administrator to take control of the buildings and oversee several HPD-funded projects, including the installation of a new roof and new plumbing and electrical system.

AnnMarie Santiago

“Landlords who continue to flagrantly violate the law and allow poor conditions to persist will face the full force of the tools available to HPD to compel compliance,” Office of Enforcement and Neighborhood Services (ENS) Deputy Commissioner AnnMarie Santiago said. “We are grateful that the Housing Court acted in response to our litigation by ordering some of the most drastic relief against this owner, the appointment of a 7A and jail.”

“HPD’s enforcement team is here for all New Yorkers who deserve safe, healthy and habitable homes, and I urge tenants to know their rights and call 311 as a first step towards improving their living conditions,” she added. “Thank you to the whole Enforcement team, and most recently the Anti-Harassment Unit attorneys, for holding this landlord accountable, with the end goal of improving living conditions for tenants in multiple buildings throughout the city.”

Several NYC-based publications that broke the news on Thursday said Ohebshalom and his attorney refused to comment on his jail sentence. Judge Stoller said Ohebshalom could earn early release if he begins making repairs.

In the meantime, the tenants at one of his buildings are continuing their rent strike.

“I know tenants feel that they’re finally being heard,” Manhattan Legal Services Supervising Attorney Ashley Viruet told Curbed. “Someone is finally seeing all the suffering.”

Email Marian McPherson

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