There's nothing worse than a nuisance landlord: except for a nuisance landlord that no-one can do anything about. Michael Shimshoni, a St. Petersburg, Fla. landlord that authorities say is at the center of numerous of shady and chronically problematic properties, is "virtually untouchable," according to reports Tampa Bay TV station WFTS.
Shimshoni has been connected to over 120 properties (see map pictured above) and one-fifth of the nuisance fines collected by the city of St. Petersburg since 1997 -- to the tune of $41,667. City records also show that Shimshoni's companies own "notoriously blighted" properties in St. Petersburg that have been connected with drug activities, armed robberies and even deaths.
Most recently, a neighbor of the residential building at 1075 17th Avenue North (where Shimshoni is the property manager) claimed that it was the hub of regular drug activity. He soon learned that it was known widely as "the crack house," and that crimes reported at that property included illegal drug use, child abuse and burglary.
But Shimshoni told the local ABC TV station that he'd done "more and above than average" what any other property manager would do. Furthermore, Shimshoni denies owning the 120 properties the city links to him, saying there is "no document" to prove the city's claims. The only property Shimshoni said he owns is one $500,000 home in Tierra Verde.
And according to St. Petersburg Nuisance Abatement Coordinator Elizabeth Ledbetter, there's little they can do. Shimshoni often "slips through the cracks" because the landlord will transfer problematic properties to different ownership companies that he creates -- companies that he distances himself legally from so he cannot be be charged or fined, or simply asked to "clean up his act."
"Our problem is, when he changes ownership, it puts us back to square zero," Ledbetter told ABC. "He knows how to play the game, and he has an attorney who helps him play the game."