There are crummy landlords and then there are those that are so bad, they're awarded the dubious distinction of a spot on Public Advocate Letitia James’ Landlord Watchlist, a catalog of building owners with the worst violation records (think lack of heat and hot water, inadequate fire exits, rodents, etc.) in New York City.
The Village Voice has a ranking of the five worst offenders, based on number of violations, and you can browse the full list here. (Bonus: the Watchlist website is also a great resource for information on tenants' rights and landlords' responsibilities.)
Better yet, avoid getting into a bad landlord situation altogether by doing your due diligence before signing a lease:
- You can start by checking out a landlord or management company’s social media profiles. Just the fact that a landlord is tweeting is an indication that they take the job seriously.
- Next, search StreetEasy forums or Yelp for positive and negative discussions and reviews. (This is particularly useful for larger management companies, as opposed to mom-and-pop building owners.)
- Do a search of potential violations at your future building at the Department of Building’s free database.
- Check out the history of any bug infestations at the Bed Bug Registry.
- And, if possible, poll your prospective neighbors. No one has a better take on the quality of a landlord than those who already live in a building.