Killer Landlord May Finally Have to Pay
Famously reprehensible landlord Moshe Piller is, amazingly, still alive, even with such a reputation of repugnancy. Not only that, but he’s still operating as a slumlord here in NYC, even after being targeted in the headlines for utterly countless violations, as well as topping the city’s worst landlords lists as far back as 2003, when he was on the “Major Problem Landlords” list. Back then, Piller had amassed 7,313 open violations across 29 buildings. And according to that same article, since 1989 tenants had sued Piller 95 times in Brooklyn and the Bronx, and the article was from 2010.
Egregious and Negligent Acts
In 2010, Piller additionally made headlines for evicting a 92-year-old Holocaust survivor, while she was in the hospital with a broken hip – even though her son had kept up her rent while she was away. Eta Eckstein had lived at her apartment at 8750 Bay Parkway in Brooklyn for 40 years, but Piller claimed she vacated the building and evicted her, though no rent was missed. The building super told neighbors she was dead and had stored her things in an unlocked basement, as well as strewn out on the landing.
The case made the news because Eta, with the help of her son, fought that eviction all the way to Housing Court, and eventually, Piller settled after being warned by the judge. Incidentally, Eckstein’s own apartment had faulty wiring in the living room, a collapsed ceiling in the bathroom, and clogged pipes. Eta didn’t care, because to her, it was her home – the only one she knew, since escaping to NYC after the Holocaust.
In 2015, Piller owned a building that caught fire due to electrical issues at his Flatbush Apartment building at 2010 Newkirk Avenue, consuming several apartments (seen above). Piller made it to the top of the list as 4th worst landlord, for that year.
Then, the unthinkable happened in December of 2016, just in time for Christmas. Scylee Vayoh and Ibanez Ambrose were just 1 and 2 years old, taking a nap in their room. Suddenly and without warning, Fire Department officials said the radiator malfunctioned, and it was believed a valve exploded, spewing boiling water and steam into the room where they slept. Their father, Peter Ambrose, was home with the girls, sleeping.
The mother, Danielle Ambrose, returned to the apartment around noon and checked on the girls – only to find a scene more grisly than anyone could possibly imagine. A neighbor called 9-1-1, but the girls had suffered first, second and third degree burns over between 70% and 90% of their bodies, and were pronounced dead at the hospital. It is unclear why the father heard nothing, but it’s speculated that it may have happened right after the mother returned. Neighbors said the mother was always seen playing with the girls, and how beautiful they were.
A NY Times article cited from a complaint the couple filed in 2017, the following: [the girls] “died horrific and agonizing deaths in their parents’ arms, while their parents tried to save them,” and that the parents had “witnessed a scene that would torment any parents for the rest of their natural lives, finding their two loving and innocent daughters scalded, their bodies purple and skin peeling off while the two girls lay there barely holding onto their lives prior to succumbing to their injuries.”
The apartment building, located at 720 Hunts Point Avenue in the Bronx, was owned by Moshe Piller. He rented low-income apartments to the city, a handful of units in several buildings, as part of the “clusters” housing program for the homeless. The unit the Ambrose’s lived in was one of these. Though there had not been any reports made specifically for their apartment, many other neighbors in the building had reported problems with radiators and heat issues. At the time, Hunts Point had 36 Environmental Control Board violations.
In a press release on Thursday, NYC Mayor announced the city has filed a lawsuit against Moshe Piller, who recently ranks #28 on the worst landlords list. Piller currently has racked up more than 1,900 open violations across 15 buildings, in the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Manhattan, on which the lawsuit is focused. The current Mayor is working hard to make a difference, and says the lawsuit is representative of the city’s new policy of enforcement against landlords who don’t follow the law, and repeatedly allow tenants to live in unsafe and inhumane conditions. Moshe Piller definitely fits that bill. The violations being addressed in the lawsuit are the most heinous, and here are some of those highlighted in the press release:
- 1742-1758 East 172nt Street, in the Bronx – HPD = 189 violations, DOB = 150 violations, FDNY = 7 violations, DOHMH = 6 violations
- 730-760 Rogers Boulevard, AKA 155 Linden Boulevard, in Brooklyn – HPD = 202 violations, DOB = 52 violations, FDNY = 5 violations, DOHMH = 3 violations
- 1025 Boynton Avenue in the Bronx (no #s given)
Among the violations listed are things like lead paint, mold, bed bug and roach infestations, cracked masonry, etc. Additionally, the P.R. stated that if Piller does not immediately repair his buildings, he will face “tens of millions” in fines.
I just have one question: if Moshe Piller is #28 on the current list of the worst landlords, who are the other 27 worse than him? It’s clear the broken system has a long way to go, but it’s encouraging to see Mayor Adams making another valiant attempt at repairing NYC.
Rochelle Harris is a passionate writer originally from Phoenix, AZ. who credits her success to integrity and determination. She has a great sense of humor, loves music and her family, and writes fiction and poetry in her spare time. She is excited about the New York experience and lifestyle! Follow Rochelle on Twitter at @LinguisticAnRky or get in touch at [email protected]