bad landlords

What Happens After Your Landlord Is Arrested?

Photo: Luiz C. Ribeiro for NY Daily News via Getty Images

Landlord Daniel Ohebshalom surrendered to the New York City Sheriff’s Office on Thursday and will begin a 60-day jail sentence after blowing through multiple deadlines to address “immediately hazardous violations” in two of his Washington Heights properties.

The arrest warrant issued earlier this month is a rarity in the housing world. Ohebshalom has spent years on the city’s list of worst landlords, and things were particularly dire at 705 and 709 West 170th Street: The buildings have been plagued with mice, roaches, lead paint, and broken windows, issues that Ohebshalom — over the course of years — showed a “sustained lack of seriousness in addressing,” according to a housing-court judge. Thus, the warrant.

Department of Housing Preservation and Development Commissioner Adolfo Carrión Jr. talk to reporters outside City Hall about the arrest of Daniel Ohebshalom. Photo: Luiz C. Ribeiro for NY Daily News via Getty Images

In an interview before Ohebshalom surrendered, Ashley Viruet, a supervising attorney at Legal Services NYC’s Manhattan office who is representing tenants in the Washington Heights buildings, told me that the warrant alone had already done some good: “What I can say is that before the threat of this was on the table, repairs were not being done at all.” Once the possibility of jail time became a “real discussion,” she said, management started to paint and make plaster repairs: “It’s not the deeper, substantive work we would like to see, but they are in there and doing things for the first time in years.”

The city’s Housing and Preservation Department first sued Ohebshalom in 2021 and later placed his Washington Heights buildings under the Alternative Enforcement Program, which requires landlords to correct violations within four months. Squalid conditions persisted in both buildings as the city says Ohebshalom ignored a string of court orders. “The most striking factor,” the court wrote when ordering his arrest, “is the duration of the contempt proceeding.” (Ohebshalom’s lawyer did not respond to a request for comment.)

So what happens now? After turning himself in, Ohebshalom was transported to Rikers Island to begin the two-month sentence, which could be reduced if the nearly 700 outstanding violations across the two buildings are corrected. Meanwhile, his tenants on 170th Street remain on rent strike. “I know tenants feel that they’re finally being heard,” Viruet told me earlier this week. “Someone is finally seeing all the suffering.”

What Happens After Your Landlord Is Arrested?