What happens when your brother tops the list of the worst landlords in Manhattan? You grab those lemon buildings and make lemon-aid, obviously!
Ms. Neustein notes that this is not the first time his name has been in the press—so much that she changed the pronunciation to Neustine to distance herself from her brother’s Neusteen—and she wants to take this opportunity to reform the system and putting an end to slumlording:
If my brother is going to be publicly identified as a “slumlord,” I want to link the “Neustein” name with the opposite: the sort of reform that can change slumlording from the shamefully profitable business it is to the crime it ought to be.
She researched the legal parameters for landlords and tenants and found an underused section of New York City’s Administrative Code, section 27-2118, which she wishes the city would embrace to take her brother if not to court, at least to task:
Few New Yorkers are aware that section 27-2118 of New York City’s Administrative Code makes it a crime – yes, a crime – for a landlord to “willfully or recklessly” tolerate hazardous conditions in his or her buildings, or to maliciously refuse to comply with corrective orders from housing officials.
[Landlords] could be hauled before a criminal court and, if convicted, sentenced to as much as a year in jail, a $1,000 fine per violation, or both.
But, upon further digging, she found two underlying reasons for the administrative code’s ineffectiveness:
The first is simply that it hasn’t been done before.
The second is that landlords are likely to plead ignorance of the hazardous conditions when threatened with prosecution.
She notes that it is hard to plead ignorance, and it sure would be for her brother as he managed to rack up an average of 3.22 violations a day in 2011 for a total of over 1100. (That’d total $1,178,000 in fines!)
In the end, she calls for a return to their raising of a strict sense of social justice and for New Yorkers to demand city prosecutors to make use of the Administrative Code’s section 27-2118 to rid the city of its atrocious slumlords.