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And the Worst Landlord in Norwood Goes To…

And the Worst Landlord in Norwood Goes To…
THE BUILDING AT 234-236 E. Gun Hill Rd. is managed by Norwest Realty.
Photo by Aaron Mayorga

The worst landlord in Norwood goes to Narsinh Desai, according to this year’s worst landlord watchlist compiled and released by the New York City Public Advocate’s Office.

Desai, listed as the head officer for Norwest Realty, is ranked the 70th worst landlord in the 100 Worst Landlord’s Watchlist by Public Advocate Letitia James. The shame list was first conceived by Mayor Bill de Blasio when he served as public advocate.

“There are some unscrupulous property owners who have chosen to exploit the market and the dire need for housing,” James, flanked by housing advocates and legislators, said at a news conference announcing the list. “They subject their tenants to dangerous and unsanitary conditions.”

The landlords were placed on the list for either having at least three open serious violations inside buildings with fewer than 35 units or two violations per unit in buildings with more than 35 units. C violations are considered the most egregious as determined by the New York City Housing Preservation and Development agency (HPD). C violations are those in need of immediate repair.

Desai’s building at 236 E. Gun Hill Rd. in Norwood racked up 204 violations, with 18 classified as C violations from the time the report was compiled in October. The total number of violations has since grown to 235. The public advocate’s office listed Desai as the landlord since the company is listed as a limited liability corporation, making it difficult to identify the true owner.

And the Worst Landlord in Norwood Goes To…
PUBLIC ADVOCATE LETITIA James (at podium) says those on worst landlords watchlist “subject its their tenants to dangerous and unsanitary conditions.” She’s flanked by Bronx legislators, including State Sen. Gustavo Rivera (second from left) and Councilman Andy King (right).

Desai is also listed as the head officer for nearby 3414 Knox Pl., where the 36-unit residence currently has 118 open HPD violations. Violations pegged to Desai’s buildings fall in the 10467 zip code, which has the second most HPD complaints on record, according to an analysis of the report. An assistant at Norwest Realty, just across the street from the troubled Gun Hill Road building, said Desai was not around for comment.

Tenants at the East Gun Hill Road building told the Norwood News that they weren’t familiar with their landlord. “I don’t have any relationship with the landlord so I don’t know if he’s that bad. I can tell you that the floods are occurring,” said resident Francisco Alcantara, who lives in the building with his wife, Maria. “We’ve had four floods in the three years that we’ve lived here. It gets resolved quickly but it happens here.”

Meanwhile, Jessica Zevor, another tenant, blamed the frequent flooding on her neighbors. “One person’s little girl dropped a ball in the toilet and it caused a major flood,” Zevor recounted. A self-professed supporter of Letitia James and the annual list, Zevor said management typically resolves any quality of life issues but admitted “not the rats and roaches.”

Francisco’s wife, Maria, said vermin sightings are commonplace. “Management comes and plugs a rat hole, but the rats will just open a new hole. The whole building is infested,” she said. Francisco added that they’ve occasionally seen rats jump in bed with them.

Some landlords placed in last year’s top ten worst landlords list have since been replaced after showing they’ve made improvements to their properties, James said.

This year the worst Bronx landlord went to Rawle Isaacs, who owns four buildings in the Mount Hope and Morris Heights sections of the Bronx. In all, 26 landlords of the number of landlords placed on the watchlist operated in the Bronx. A total of 67 problem buildings were found in the Bronx, representing 15 percent of the total number of buildings in the list.

Other findings include:

  • Rawle Isaacs is the worst Bronx landlord on the list with 969 open HPD violations.
  • Robert Kaydanian is the lowest ranking worst Bronx landlord on the list with 27 open HPD violations.
  • The zip code with the most open HPD violations was 10453, covering the neighborhood of Tremont with 1311.
  • The zip code with the second most open HPD violations was 10467, covering Norwood, Allerton, and Olinville with 1042.
  • The zip code with the least open HPD violations is 10474, with 29 in Hunt’s Point.
  • Norwood also has six of the worst landlords, the most in the Bronx.
  • Zev Solomon is the worst landlord with the most reach across the Bronx with properties spreading across five zip codes (10454, 10456, 10458, 10459, 10460).
  • There is a median 293 open HPD violations per building in the Bronx.

The news comes amid a housing affordability crisis the de Blasio administration has attempted to quell through its Housing New York Plan. So far, more than 20,000 apartments have either been built, repaired to livable conditions or had their finance terms re-written to prolong their affordability. Last month, the de Blasio announced that 100,000 more units will be built or preserved, bringing the number to 300,000.

With the city also undergoing a building boom, James pointed out that some of the landlords on the list happened to operate in areas where gentrification has been documented.

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3 thoughts on “And the Worst Landlord in Norwood Goes To…

  1. Glenn Leahey

    I have seen lists of NYC’s worst landlords for many…perhaps for 20-30 years, I believe…in either the NY DAILY NEWS or in the VILLAGE VOICE. I can only hope that renters and co-op owners go through the citywide 311 system…and, as needed, contact housing advocacy groups like the Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition…NWBCCC.ORG…which has been around for @40 years. Effective advocacy. Thanks NORWOOD NEWS.

  2. Bryan Gerard Briggs

    As an avid newspaper reader,and as of the previous year,a certified,Access Producer for BRONXNET-TV,I feel that this is,indeed a valid topic,for your newspaper to cover! It is a true,muckraking article,very much in the tradition of Jacob Riis,who championed the cause of the poor,took pictures of people living in shoddy tenements,at the turn of the previous century & wrote the book,HOW THE OTHER HALF LIVES,documenting their plight in society!

    Also,as a former reporter,myself,for newspapers,such as THE WEST SIDE EYE,on the Upper West Side,of Manhattan,from 1994-96 & much more recently,UPWARD,courtesy of Mainchance.org,from 2000-2003 (also,contributed to the magazine,BIG NEWS!),I’m willing to offer my services,to your paper—in the form of a paid position,possibly as that of a Freelance Reporter!

    Thanks for doing great reporting & continue to be an asset to our society!

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