Bensonhurst’s bad actor landlord is back in the news as the owner of a building in the Bronx where two children died after a radiator filled the room in which they were sleeping with scalding steam.
Moshe Piller, the owner of several buildings across Brooklyn and neighboring boroughs including 8750 Bay Parkway, has been flagged several times by housing authorities over the years and in 2015, was ranked New York’s fourth worst landlord, according to the office of Public Advocate Letitia James.
In the most recent allegations against Piller, who has had multiple lawsuits filed against him according to Legal Services NYC, two children – one-year-old Scylee Vayoh Ambrose and her sister, two-year-old Ibanez Ambrose – died after a furnace valve reportedly burst on Wednesday, December 7 at 720 Hunts Point Avenue in the Bronx (a building owned by Piller in which several units were being used by the city’s Department of Homeless Services as so-called cluster housing for homeless families), shooting steam into the room where the children were napping.
According to Legal Services NYC, Piller has been issued “dozens of rent reduction orders by New York State’s Division of Homes and Community Renewal dating back to 1993. The orders have been issued for a variety of reasons, from decreased services to conditions including clogged and backed up pipes, buckling and collapsed ceilings, unsealed windows, leaks, roach infestations and sinking floors.”
In Bensonhurst, after several months of dealing with unsanitary conditions at 8750 Bay Parkway — another one of Piller’s buildings — residents, disgusted by the excess trash, pests and other building maintenance issues, reached out to local elected officials for help last year.
“When an apartment building on a block becomes neglected, then it will impact not only the families living in the building but also endangers and lowers property values for all the other families in both buildings and private residences on the block,” said Assemblymember William Colton, who toured the building last July alongside District Leader Nancy Tong.
Tenant-reported problems at 8750 Bay Parkway included a lack of heat and hot water in January, 2015; peeling and flaking paint; bedbugs, mice, roaches and other vermin; leaks; mold; and broken intercoms.
Piller — who operates out of offices in Boro Park — also made headlines in 2010 when he attempted to evict a 92-year-old Holocaust survivor from her Bensonhurst apartment while she was at a rehabilitation facility, despite the fact that the rent was paid.
Incorporating data from both the Department of Housing Preservation (HPD) and the Department of Buildings (DOB), the Worst Landlord Watchlist – created by former Public Advocate Bill de Blasio in 2010 and continued by James – serves as a useful tool in combating the rise of bad landlords and, more importantly, for residents and public officials to track illegal activity regarding buildings and property owners.
“Every New Yorker deserves a safe and decent place to live, and every apartment must meet basic standards of decency,” said James. “The Landlord Watchlist has become a critical tool for helping tenants organize against unscrupulous landlords, has assisted with the criminal convictions of some of New York’s worst landlords, and has led to better living conditions for countless New Yorkers. We will never stop fighting for the housing rights of every New Yorker.”
Efforts to reach Piller were unsuccessful.