NYC's Ten Worst Tenants

We hope you don't live next to these people

It seems that she was awakened by Richards at about 1 a.m. He was complaining that she was denying him the use of the mattress as a spare bed, the Daily News reported. She had told him she needed the mattress for her son, but as she later told reporters, "I heard [him] saying, 'She's a fucking liar.' " She ran downstairs to confront him and, according to one account, called Richards a "monkey face." Meanwhile, Shim, a livery cab driver, was hurrying home to see what was going on. When he arrived, shortly before 2 a.m., his gal and Richards were still screaming at each other. Shim was not happy. "My boyfriend heard him cussing me," the fiancée said. "He told him, 'Why are you disrespecting my woman?' " As the Daily News recounted the tale, Shim "stormed downstairs to challenge his tenant" but "a moment later, he was stumbling back up" with a knife stuck in him. "He was running back up the stairs," she told reporters. "I saw the knife sticking out. He collapsed right on the steps."

Richards was charged with manslaughter and criminal possession of a weapon. He has pled not guilty. There may very well be more to this story—was this really a case of self-defense? The case has yet to wind its way through the courts, but the fact is that a landlord is dead after a confrontation with a tenant. Shim's pals contend that the landlord was a good guy who usually steered clear of confrontations, according to the Black Urban Times.

Richards's attorney, Edward Schneider, tells the Voice that what took place was an act of self-defense. "He is human, and we as humans would probably react in a similar manner if we were put in a same position," he says. "That's all I can say, without giving away the whole house."

Beauty (1 Christopher Street) and the beastly apartment (below).
Harry Seward
Beauty (1 Christopher Street) and the beastly apartment (below).
Courtesy Fox 5

The Anti-Tenant Tenants' Association

Arlether Middleton and her daughter, Twana Rose, served as the president and secretary of the tenants' association in a Bronx apartment building at 783 East 168th Street in Morrisania. This was a building in transition—a good one, for a change. It was part of a city program that enables low- and middle-income tenants to buy their apartments and eventually convert the building into a co-op.

The tenants' associations in such buildings are set up with bank accounts and are supposed to manage the properties during the conversion process.

Middleton works from the building, state records show, as a licensed day-care provider. But mother and daughter turned out to be bad babysitters for the building and its full-time tenants.

They stole more than $30,000 in rent that was intended for the upkeep of the building. Then they tried to defraud the city by submitting false bank statements and financial reports, says the city's Department of Investigation. Instead of caring for the building for the sake of their fellow tenants, they used the money to pay their own credit-card, cable, cell-phone, and utilities bills.

Questioned by the Voice, some of the tenants whom Middleton and Rose bamboozled say they had only a vague idea that they had been scammed. "We heard about it," says Chrystal Allen, 43, "and that should be handled by the city because if you were paying rent and they're taking it, well, that's not right."

This past January, Middleton, 64, pled guilty to third-degree grand larceny, and Rose, 38, pled guilty to third-degree attempted grand larceny.

This wasn't the first time Rose had attempted to defraud the city and her fellow tenants. In 2001, she pled guilty to charges that she illegally cashed the tenants' association's checks and kept the money for herself. She stole $7,000 and was sentenced to five years' probation. Reached by the Voice, Middleton said of the more-recent case: "That case is closed, and I'm finished with it."

They aren't quite finished: The two are scheduled to be sentenced this week.

Unfortunately, the building's other tenants are finished: Because of "financial mismanagement," the building has been taken out of the conversion program. Middleton and Rose not only robbed their fellow tenants but also helped deprive them of a rare chance to finally own their own homes.

The Fake Tenant

In order to live in Surfside Gardens, a public-housing project in Coney Island, Julienne Sialeu listed herself as a hairstylist who earned less than $17,000 a year—for her first four years in subsidized housing, she claimed to have no income at all.

In reality, she was an entrepreneurial landlord who had purchased a $155,000 property on Union Street in Brooklyn in 1998, the year before she obtained public housing.

Not only did Sialeu not live in her NYC Housing Authority apartment, but she didn't live on Union Street, either. In 2004, her son, an NYPD cop, bought a house on Flatbush Avenue for $555,000, and Sialeu lived there as her son's tenant. In June 2006, a newly filed deed made Sialeu a joint tenant of the Flatbush property, with right of survivorship. Meanwhile, her son moved into her subsidized apartment in Surfside Gardens. Officials of the Department of Investigation say she not only concealed her income and ownership of two properties but also her son's income.

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