Landlord on 'Worst' List Faces Jail for 30 Housing Code Violations

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A New York landlord has an arrest warrant with his name on it for racking up more than 30 housing code violations during a four-year-period for a Bronx apartment building he owns. That's not the only place Joel Loutan's name appears. It is also on the "Worst Landlords Watchlist" put out by the New York Public Advocate Office.

"Mr. Loutan allowed his property to slide into such a deplorable state ... and failed to comply with Court orders directing the correction of housing code violations," states a media release from the New York City Department of Housing Preservation & Development.

The Bronx County Housing Court, which found Loutan in civil contempt of an earlier order and judgment, directed that Loutan be fined and remanded to jail until such time as the violations are corrected. He reportedly owes $92,910 in fines. In 2009, the building (pictured above), at 1514 E. 172nd St., was designated as one of the 200 most distressed buildings in the city, reported New York's Daily News.

Loutan, who lives in Lebanon, N.J., ignored court orders, failed to appear in court -- with or without an attorney -- and neglected the building in the Sound View neighborhood for so long that the city stepped in to do repairs itself. The city redid the roof and repaired the exterior of the building. It also rewired the entire electrical system and replaced the heating plant.

"As an owner you are responsible for the upkeep of your property and its effect on the health, safety, and security of your tenants," said HPD Commissioner Mathew M. Wambua in the release. "I sincerely hope that other owners who maybe in a similar position view this as a stark wakeup call as well as an opportunity to put their affairs in order and do right by their tenants.

Loutan, who also owns a four-unit residential building at 1359 Rosedale Ave. in the Bronx, according to AOL Real Estate research of public documents, might do well being sentenced to spending time in his own rental property. That's what happened to a landlord in Richmond, Va., who racked up more than 180 property maintenance violations and $70,000 in fines. Oliver C. Lawrence had to spend 40 days living in one of his units, in addition to 30 days in jail.

If you think you are the victim of a slumlord, you can report him to your city or a tenant's association. Follow these seven tips if you wish to sue your landlord. You don't have to live in a building that's putting your life in danger.

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