If you’re striking out trying to get ahold of your landlord when there’s a leak, no heat, roaches or other common curses of city living, you’re not alone. The number of delinquent landlords in New York City seemingly is as rampant as the rat population.
Filmmaker Jeff Seal, 40, sought to chat with these elusive creatures — the two-legged, property-owner kind — in “New York’s Worst Landlords,” a new three-part documentary series debuting on YouTube on Monday, June 7.
He started with the Public Advocate’s annual Worst Landlord Watchlist as a guide, but actually getting offenders, like Silvershore Properties or Delshah Capital, on the phone or in person was a challenge.
“You don’t know who you’re sending your money to, who you are supposed to call to get basic repairs,” Seal told The Post. “And we found the same thing, where we’re like, we don’t know who actually owns this building, where their office is, how we can even reach them.”
Hiding behind anonymous LLCs, phantom offices and phone numbers that either ring incessantly, have infinite busy signals or go to an abyss of unanswered voicemail, tenants — most often in rent-stabilized apartments — are left with little to no recourse while living with broken stoves, no heat, massive holes in the ceiling, and rodents.
“Even the dog is scared of the rats,” one tenant told the Brooklyn filmmaker.
Seal’s documentary, made with The Libbey Brothers filmmaking team, shines a light on these serious issues, while bringing a little levity to the situation, Michael Moore-style.
At one point, Seal holds a mock telethon with a scattered group of people manning the phones trying to get a landlord to pick up a phone.
When Seal and his crew went to the offices of J. Wasser & Co., a manager of buildings for top-of-the-list offender Silvershore Properties — which has since split up — they were turned away and forced to delete the video. So they took the audio instead and reenacted the scene using Seal’s Sock Puppet Collective.
“We wanted to make something accessible, funny and entertaining,” Seal said. “So people who might not read like three or four long-form articles in The New York Times might watch this video.”
Funny is not a problem for Seal, who is literally a clown, having gone to Clown Conservatory in San Francisco.
“One of the things about clowning is like, the joke is on the clown,” Seal said. “It’s never on the audience. It’s about the clown who is vulnerable. He’s the idiot.
The goal is to take bad landlords “down a peg,” but “in the process, I don’t mind having me looking like the idiot.”
The Post sought comment from Hildreth Advisors, where Silvershore’s David Shorenstein now works, but our message was not returned, and at J. Wasser & Co., no one picked up the phone.
Metro | New York Post