Adams Administration to Take One of NYC’s Worst Landlords to Court

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Mayor Eric Adams’ administration is taking a landlord to court that has been on the city’s radar since a December 2016 incident where two children were killed by an exploding radiator in one of his buildings in the Bronx.

Moshe Pillar’s name has continued to appear on the New York City public advocate’s “Worst Landlord Watchlist” since 2016, and the city sued him Thursday for 1,900 violations across the 15 buildings he owns throughout the Bronx, Brooklyn and Manhattan, according to the Adams administration.

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The city aims to force Pillar to correct all violations and cease what they, and tenant organizations such as the Flatbush Tenant Coalition and the South Bronx Tenants Movement, allege to be tenant harassment through illegal and dangerous construction.

“The time of landlords openly flouting the law and harassing tenants is over. This lawsuit sends a clear message that those who break the law will pay,” Adams said in a statement. “While Piller made millions in profits, his tenants paid the price. Our administration won’t allow people to willfully endanger the safety and well-being of their tenants.”

Piller, who could not be reached for comment, could face “tens of millions” in civil penalties if he fails to comply with court orders, according to Adams.

At his properties of 1742-1758 East 172nd Street in the Bronx, for example, the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) has issued 189 violations, the Department of Buildings (DOB) has issued 150 violations, the FDNY has issued seven violations, and the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) has issued six violations.

These violations are over elevator safety conditions; unsafe electrical wiring; installation of unlawful electric, gas and plumbing lines’ lead-based paint; and failure to install multiple self-closing doors to contain a fire.

“Safe housing is a fundamental right for every New Yorker, and we’re asking the court to compel Mr. Piller to address these longstanding violations,” New York City Corporation Counsel Sylvia Hinds-Radix said in a statement. “We’ll use the full extent of our legal resources against individuals who think they are above the law and put tenants at risk.”

Similar violations were found at Pillar’s 155 Linden Boulevard in Brooklyn and 1025 Boynton Avenue in the Bronx, according to the mayor’s office.

The 2016 radiator incident at 720 Hunts Point Avenue was once referred to by former Mayor Bill de Blasio as a “freak accident” in one of five cluster apartments rented out by the city through the Bushwick Economic Development Corp. for individuals experiencing homelessness.

The tragedy forced a policy change from the then-administration to phase out use of cluster sites for the unhoused.

Piller made national headlines in 2010 when he issued an eviction notice to a 92-year-old Holocaust survivor who had lived at 8750 Bay Parkway in Bath Beach, Brooklyn for 40 years. Piller had taken over management of the building five years prior.

Mark Hallum can be reached at mhallum@commercialobserver.com.