City Wins Three Lawsuits Against Notorious Landlord
Mayor Eric Adams recently announced that the city has won around $4.2 million in fines and settlements in three lawsuits against Daniel Ohebshalom and his business affiliates. The city accused Ohebshalom of making more than $300,000 in illegal hotel fees after displacing tenants in rent-stabilized apartments at his Hell's Kitchen properties, and presiding over severe housing code violations at his buildings in Washington Heights.
“There are zero excuses for building owners repeatedly ignoring court orders and agreements to address conditions in their buildings,” HPD Commissioner Adolfo Carrión Jr. said in a statement. “We assist owners who cannot afford necessary improvements, but refusing to do the work as tenants are struggling is unacceptable. We will continue to hold the owners and management companies accountable until conditions drastically improve.”
The Mayor’s Office of Special Enforcement (OSE) won $1.1 million in payments of penalties and fines from a settlement agreement. OSE’s involvement started Aug. 13, 2019, following numerous complaints of illegal hotel activities, when it sued to shut down unlawful operation and harassment at 452 West 36th Street, 410 West 46th Street, and 412 West 46th Street in Manhattan. This led to at least 15 inspections and approximately 100 administrative violations.
Long list of violations. As outlined in the lawsuit, the owner permitted multiple apartments across the three buildings to be converted into illegal short-term rentals, generating over $300,000 in revenue and leading to the abandonment of lawful permanent rent-stabilized tenants due to deficient conditions in the buildings, including extensive fire damage; large cracks in exterior walls; broken or defective common area floors; unsafe wiring; inadequate lighting at entranceways; and people breaking in, trespassing, sleeping, urinating, and using narcotics in the buildings.
Financial judgment. The lawsuit reached a total settlement value of $1,115,000, representing $990,000 in penalties to resolve the city’s claims and $125,000 in payments on outstanding fines.
In addition, HPD had obtained over $3 million from Ohebshalom and his affiliates in relation to civil penalties in judgments and finding of civil and criminal contempt over the past three months. These matters pertained to two lawsuits involving buildings in Washington Heights where it was found that Ohebshalom and affiliates ignored court orders, failed to correct unsafe living conditions, and violated hundreds of housing codes.
More properties targeted. These judgments mark the latest development in litigation the city has brought against Ohebshalom and his affiliates. HPD’s Anti-Harassment Unit and tenant attorneys are continuing to pursue legal action in regard to Ohebshalom’s other properties in Manhattan and Queens. Over the last year, HPD has brought more than 10 motions for contempt and civil penalties for failing to comply with court orders to correct housing code violations at seven buildings, commencing new litigation, and entering $750,000 in judgments for failing to pay civil penalties agreed to in settlements at other properties.