Since Letitia James was elected to Public Advocate in 2013, she has made determined efforts to hold landlords accountable when they have failed to provide their tenants with safe and habitable homes. In mid-August she announced a list of the top ten lenders to those on the annual Worst Landlords Watchlist. This watchlist was started in 2010 by then Public Advocate Bill de Blasio.
Ten banks together have loaned over $300 million via181 loans to building owners who have racked up enough violations to put them on this Worst list. The following is the list of these lenders, listed in order of greatest to least amount loaned: 1. Signature Bank, 2. Capital One, 3. Customers Bank, 4. JPMorgan Chase, 5. New York Community Bank, 6. Dime Community Bank, 7. Investors Bank, 8. Peapack-Gladstone Bank, 9. Deutsche Bank, and 10. Astoria Bank.
“Banks should put their money where their values are, and stop funding the City’s Worst Landlords until they fix unsafe housing conditions,” said Public Advocate Letitia James. “Banks must use their economic leverage to get bad landlords to take responsibility for maintaining basic living conditions in their buildings. We won’t rest until every single tenant has access to safe housing all across New York City.”
James also suggested the following reforms for the banks to put into practice: to consider a landlord’s presence on the Worst Landlords Watchlist and the building’s violations and conditions when evaluating a loan; loans to those on the watchlist should be conditional on the removal of violations and assessments; if a landlord is placed on the watchlist after receiving the loan a liaison should be appointed to work on a remediation plan that includes monthly inspection — if the landlord defaults on the remediation plan, the bank should foreclose on the property and appoint a receiver.