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Monday 27 March 2017

Irish landlord one of NY's worst

Flats in disrepair -- watchdog

Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

AN Irish businessman has been named as one of New York's worst landlords, the Irish Independent has learned.

Buildings owned by Cavan man Shawn Curry (43) in the Bronx appear at second and fourth place in a name and shame dossier published by a government watchdog.

One of the buildings, a block of 56 apartments, has been cited for 1,048 separate violations of the New York housing code, just one infraction less than the building that topped the watchlist.

A second building owned by Mr Curry -- a block of 31 apartments -- was cited for 684 infractions. However Mr Curry, originally from Belturbet, has rejected claims that he is a 'slumlord' and told the Irish Independent he planned to renovate the buildings, which he bought last April.

The low-profile businessman emigrated to the US in 1989 and has quietly built up a large property portfolio.

He now owns around 250 apartments and divides his time between New York, where he spends eight months a year, and a farm he owns near Tralee, Co Kerry.

The list was compiled by the New York Public Advocates Office, which acts as an ombudsman for citizens' complaints.

The problems highlighted by the list included lack of heating or hot water, lead paint, toxic mould, broken pipes, inadequate fire exits, rodents and severe damage to the walls, ceilings and floors.

"The city's worst landlords can no longer hide from responsibility while their buildings fall into dangerous disrepair," said public advocate Bill de Blasio after he published the list this week.

Speaking to the Irish Independent, Mr Curry accepted that the buildings he owned were in poor repair.

Unfair

However, he described the list as unfair, saying he was in the business of buying dilapidated properties at a cut price and improving them.

"I don't do this to be a slumlord. I do it to improve the buildings. It's just what I do to make a living. I respect the tenants and try to make them happy. If you don't win the hearts and minds of the people you don't get anywhere.

"I've been going into the worst areas in the Bronx, cleaning up the buildings and getting the drug dealers out."

Conditions in one of Mr Curry's buildings were so poor that residents filed a lawsuit against its management company earlier this year.

Mr Curry said he had since employed "15 or 20 guys working night and day to improve the building".

However, records obtained by the Irish Independent show that one of the Bronx properties on Bainbridge Street had 116 of its 1,048 unresolved violations listed against it since Mr Curry became owner last April.

These included lack of carbon monoxide or smoke detection devices, broken or defective sub-floors and lighting, cockroaches, mice and rats.

Irish Independent

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