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One of NYC’s ‘worst landlords’ sues Public Advocate over disparaging title

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Kamran Hakim is suing the public advocate for $15 million

210 East 34th Street, one of the buildings owned by Kamran Hakim
Screen shot via Google Maps

Billionaire landlord Kamran Hakim is suing Public Advocate Letitia James for $15 million, DNAInfo reports. The issue? Hakim’s repeated presence on the city’s “100 Worst Landlords in New York City” list. According to the ranking, Hakim is the 52nd worst landlord of 2016, which actually represents a slight improvement from last year, when he came in 34th.

But Hakim says that’s bunk, because most of his buildings don’t actually have tenants at all. According to Hakim, four of the six Upper East Side buildings cited in the report are in fact vacant and slated for demolition. Now, he wants his name taken off the list —and while he’s at it, he wants to see the list abolished all together.

But Anna Brower, the PA spokesperson, says that’s not happening. “The Public Advocate will continue to use the Worst Landlords List, and accompanying litigation and legislation, as a tool to protect New Yorkers from unscrupulous landlords,” she told DNAInfo.

In James’s assessment, Hakim is one of them. Per the list, Hakim was responsible for 565 violations over seven buildings and 83 units in 2015, and 453 violations across four buildings in 2016.

But Hakim’s lawyer, Darren Marks, argues the list is fatally flawed and needs to go. He claims that it doesn’t account for uncooperative tenants, or violations for apartments that have been permanently vacated. (But those are still violations, so…)

“The public advocate's watch list creates an undue and avoidable harm to those wrongly identified as the 'worst landlords' and placed on the watch list," Marks said.

And it’s true that this wouldn’t be the first time, for example, that an empty building has popped up on James’s list. DNAInfo points out that in 2014 and 2015, Mark Tress appeared on the list for a long-vacant building on West 57th Street.