Bad Landlords Own Buildings Housing One Million People and Cost All New Yorkers $300 Million Each Year

Bad Landlords Own Buildings Housing One Million People and Cost All New Yorkers $300 Million Each Year

New research from Regional Plan Association finds that landlords with a pattern of neglect and harrassment manage less than 2% of New York City's apartment stock but are responsible for half of eviction proceedings and a disproportionate number housing code violations

Residents of the Bronx are more than twice as likely as NYC residents as a whole to live in building with a bad landlord

New York, NY – Regional Plan Association released new research today finding that ‘bad landlords’ – those who cut corners on maintenance or harass rent-stabilized tenants into leaving their apartments –  make up just two percent of landlords in the city, but are responsible for a far more significant portion of the housing problems New Yorkers face.

The report quantifies the enormous cost that these few owners impose, both on the City and on New Yorkers living below the poverty line.

  • One million New Yorkers, including 250,000 children, live in buildings owned by bad landlords.

  • Bad landlords have a large impact on the city’s economy as a whole, costing taxpayers $300 Million a year, or nearly $100 in taxes a year for each household in New York, in managing evictions as well as violation inspections and repairs.

  • Bronx residents are twice as likely as New York residents as a whole to live in a building managed by a bad landlord; nearly one in three people living in homes owned by a bad landlord live below the poverty line.

“It’s alarming that a limited number of bad landlords generate such an enormous cost to the City and cause such lasting harm to tenants,” said Tom Wright, President and CEO of Regional Plan Association.  “While the city’s recent expansion in legal aid and tenant protections are important steps forward, we must continue to keep this as a focus as we strive to preserve affordable housing in New York City”

“Our research makes visible the large costs that a minority of bad actors are imposing on residents and the city as a whole. Having to miss work to deal with maintenance issues or kids that are sick because of substandard housing, comes with real costs to families, employers and ultimately taxpayers,” said Mandu Sen, Program Manager, Regional Plan Association and lead researcher on this report.

Tenants living in buildings managed by bad landlords face more problems than the average New Yorker; 20 of 100 families living in a building managed by a bad landlord face at least one eviction case per year. They are likely to lose up to half a week’s wages in time in court alone, and are at greater risk of being added to the tenant blacklist, which can make it more difficult to find housing in the future and increases the risk of homelessness.  

They were five times more likely to have documented lead and mold problems, four times more likely to have documented problems with pests and 2.6 times more likely to have documented heat and hot water problems than the average New Yorker.

Living in these conditions have negative impacts on health, especially for those already dealing with the stresses of poverty, or vulnerable populations like children and seniors. 

Below, please find additional key findings from the report:

  • Bad landlords are in the minority but have an outsized impact. Of the 763,276 buildings with residential units in NYC, less than 2% are managed by bad landlords.

  • Forty-eight percent of evictions happen in buildings that experience a pattern of both multiple eviction actions and numerous building code violations, indicative of landlord neglect and harassment.

  • In 2017 there were approximately 232,000 eviction proceedings resulting in 21,000 residential evictions. About half of these — 111,000 eviction proceedings and 10,000 evictions — were in buildings owned by bad landlords.

Click here to view the full report.


About Regional Plan Association

Regional Plan Association is an independent, not-for-profit civic organization that develops and promotes ideas to improve the economic health, environmental resiliency and quality of life of the New York metropolitan area. We conduct research on transportation, land use, housing, good governance and the environment. We advise cities, communities and public agencies. And we advocate for change that will contribute to the prosperity of all residents of the region. Since the 1920s, RPA has produced four landmark plans for the region, the most recent was released in November 2017. For more information, please visit or