Paying Up: Why Landlords Get Away With Mounds of Housing Violations

Thursday, December 16th, 2010

By Richard Nieva

John Gillick is engaged to be married. When asked if he would stay at his apartment in the Flatbush Gardens complex in East Flatbush after the big July wedding, his initial response was a simple laugh.

“This is not the kind of place I’d want to raise a daughter,” he said.

Gillick comes home to his fifth floor apartment, at 1352 New York Ave., only occasionally nowadays. The 29-year-old patent lawyer spends most nights sleeping in his office in downtown Manhattan, relegating his Brooklyn apartment to the realm of storage space.

When he does come home, he enters the building with a magnetic key he must swipe several times before the door opens. The smell of marijuana smoke lingers in the hallway as he gets on the elevator. To get the elevator to work, he must pull the door shut from the inside using plastic ties attached to the window grate. The jutting sound of the elevator cart hitting the plastic ties can be heard as it travels to the fifth floor.

Gillick’s plight—which he insists is tame—is a common one for Brooklyn renters. On a recent watch list of the city’s worst landlords released by the office of the New York City Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, apartment buildings in the borough of Kings appeared 154 times, comprising over 40 percent of the entire list. Buildings owned by Gillick’s own landlord, David Bistricer, appeared 32 times alone.

….As loud as they may be, though, their complaints could be falling on deaf ears.

State Senator Liz Krueger believes the solution is changing the system: setting up administrative tribunals through the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development to issue and enforce fines, instead of requiring lengthy and often toothless housing proceedings….

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