Arrest warrant issued for infamous NYC 'slumlord' over failure to fix buildings

NEW YORK — A New York City judge took the rare step of issuing an arrest warrant for one of the city’s most infamous landlords for allegedly failing to correct hundreds of hazardous building violations at a pair of Washington Heights properties.

Daniel Ohebshalom, also known as Dan Shalom, figured at the top of the Public Advocate’s “Worst Landlords” watchlist for the second consecutive year in December. There were a record-breaking 3,293 open violations across 300 apartments in 15 buildings he owns. An agent of Ohebshalom, Jonathan Santana, is technically listed in the number one spot.

Manhattan Judge Jack Stoller found the notorious slumlord showed a “sustained lack of seriousness” in making the court-mandated fixes at 705 and 709 170 St. in upper Manhattan. Ohebshalom is now facing the prospect of up to 60 days in jail on Rikers unless he does so.

The city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) announced on Monday it helped secure the warrant after years of litigating against Ohebshalom alongside affected tenants. The two Washington Heights buildings alone have over 700 housing violations, including mold, peeling lead paint and rat infestations.

“The most striking factor informing the Court’s discretion is the duration of the contempt proceeding. The Court held Respondents in civil contempt as of February 2, 2023, more than thirteen months before this writing,” Judge Stoller wrote. “Moreover, the sheer volume of extant hazardous and immediately hazardous violations bespeaks the extent of Respondents’ contempt.”

Stoller ordered the city’s Sheriff’s Department to collaborate with law enforcement in California to execute the warrant, as Ohebshalom is believed to reside in the Los Angeles area. He could either be extradited by California police or come to New York voluntarily, according to an HPD rep.

Commissioner Adolfo Carrión Jr. described the Washington Heights cases as “a small portion of his portfolio” at a budget hearing on Monday, where he touted the arrest warrant.

“I want to be crystal clear, if you create unsafe, unhealthy, and unlivable conditions, we will hold you accountable. Let this be a message to all landlords that HPD will make certain the law is enforced to protect every New Yorker from dangerous housing conditions,” he said in a statement.

Carrión repeatedly referred to Ohebshalom as a “slumlord” at the budget hearing.

The department said in December it was “aggressively” litigating against Ohebshalom and his company, Keystone Management, across the five boroughs. In October the city hit him with $4.2 million in penalties from three lawsuits over issues including allegedly running illegal hotels.

But Monday’s arrest warrant was an unusually stringent step. An HPD spokesperson said the last time such a warrant was issued was in December 2022 against Aron Stark, whose Bushwick building had no heat and was infested with roaches. He spent eight days on Rikers.

Tenants, advocates and even elected officials have long criticized the city for not cracking down hard enough on irresponsible landlords, an issue that has come to the fore since the dramatic partial building collapse in the Bronx last year that did not result in any fatalities.

Stoller’s warrant initially called for a maximum of 180 days in civil jail, but the number was crossed out and replaced with “60.”

Ohebshalom and his attorney could not immediately be reached for comment.