Ho Ho Ho! It’s Christmas season and that means it’s time for our annual tradition of calling out the year’s worst and best landlords. This is now the fourth year in a row that we’ve done the annual N&N list.
We had an easier time this year finding landlords for the “nicest” list. Unfortunately this is because the large number of natural disasters that plagued the country in 2018. Of course, as always, we had a huge number of “naughty” landlords to choose from so your favorite villain with a vacancy might not appear. Notably we have chosen to omit the parties involved in the Ghost Ship fire as we don’t think that matter is truly settled yet.
But you’re not here for the intro. You’re here for the best and worst landlords of the year. Let’s get to it.
Landlord: Elijah Mohammad Rashaed, Milwaukee, WI
Crime: This slumlord was in the midst of a trial in Milwaukee County court for failure to maintain hundreds of low-income rental properties throughout the greater Milwaukee area. The court was hours away from rendering a verdict that would have placed his properties into receivership when word came in that an undisclosed buyer was seeking to purchase 123 of his buildings. Investigation found that the buyer was one of Rashaed’s affiliates who was helping him build a new portfolio in Cincinnati, OH where he is already racking up violations for another empire of slums. Given that over 12,000 unresolved violations are on record against Rashaed’s Wisconsin holdings the city seeks to prevent him from purchasing any more in the area. Read More.
Status: The case was closed in July but reopened yesterday, December 13.
Landlord: Katia Goremsandu, London, UK
Crime: Called the worst landlord in England by the Ministry of Justice, Goremsandu is the owner of multiple properties including some luxury buildings in posh areas of London. She earns over £100k per year in rental income. She has over 60 convictions for housing-related matters. She owes over £143k in fines. All of this would be normal for the prosecution of a slumlord until the Guardian forced the courts to release documents about the case, which closed in 2016. Originally the courts had wanted to force the sale of Goremsandu’s properties, but instead this multi-millionaire is on a payment plan, submitting just £1,000 per month towards the balance due. Read more.
Status: Paying off her debt. For the next nine years.
Landlord: Samuel Campiformio, Oahu, HI
Crime: A witness working on his boat observed the legs of two people, a landlord and tenant, entering a shipping container, then overheard a violent argument. Only one man left, closing and bolting the container door behind him. The witness went to check the container and found the other man stabbed to death inside. The landlord says he was high on meth at the time. Read more.
Status: Campiformio has pled not guilty to second degree murder and is held on $500k bail. His next court date is January 14.
Landlord: Marc Belluomini, Fremont, CA
Crime: Two ranchers rented 1500 acres of pastureland from this California landlord for use by their 60 head of cattle, but the relationship soured. When they attempted to remove their livestock the landlord got angry and started shooting. When the tenants returned, at least 26 cows were missing and they could see the remains of some cattle poking up from the ground. Police uncovered 11 of the cows and spent shell casings from a high powered rifle in a shallow mass grave on the property. Read more.
Status: Belluomini is out on bail. His next scheduled court appearance is January 19.
Landlord: Raymond Lewis, Brooklyn, NY
Crime: He wasn’t really a landlord, but he played one for over a year. He collected rents, he gave receipts, he even won an eviction case in housing court when the tenants didn’t pay. But he didn’t own the properties, nor was he hired by the Florida-based owners to manage them. Read more.
Status: Still working through the court system. He was assigned a court appointed attorney in October. His next court appearance is scheduled for December 19.
Landlord: Melissa “Missy” Echeverria, Novato, CA
Crime: This landlord and “luxury” real estate agent sought to make a quick buck buy jacking up the asking price for her rental property from $5000 a month to $9000 following the North Bay wildfire of October 2017. State law prohibits raising rents more than 10% during an official state of emergency such as the one declared in response to the fires. Read more.
Status: Ms. Echeverria’s real estate license remains active and she is still listed as an agent with Keller Williams. Her price gouging case has not yet been resolved.
Follow-ups from Previous Years
When we do the naughty list we focus on arrests and indictments rather than convictions, because the news doesn’t always follow up on the outcome of cases and they often take years to get through the court system.
With four of these lists under our belt now, we figured we should revisit some of the folks from our other installments to see how things turned out.
Davin Gartley. Was accused of running a drug prostitution ring out of his properties. Charges were dropped pending further investigation by authorities.
Mohammad Choudry. Covered in our 2016 list, Choudry’s 70 properties were placed in receivership and he was banned by the city from purchasing any further investment property. The verdict is serving as an example for the district attorney prosecuting the similar Rashaed case we covered above.
Nemat Maleksalehi. This California landlord used intimidation tactics against his rent-controlled tenants including vandalism of their cars in an attempt to force them out so that he could raise rents. Maleksalehi was convicted but got off with a light sentence considering the felony charges: 40 days of community service, 3 years of probation and $84,000 in court fees.
Thomas Fallon. Caught on camera masturbating in his tenant’s bedroom, Fallon was convicted of criminal mischief and trespassing. His was sentenced to six months of house arrest and six months of probation.
Equity Residential. One of the largest property management companies in the country, Equity Residential is being sued class action in the Northern District of California for charging late fees in excess of the amounts dictated by law. The suit remains ongoing. Tenants who lived in Equity Residential properties in California between September 2010 and October 2017 can elect to participate in the case at equitylatefees.com.
Mid-America Apartments. The largest landlord in the US was the defendant in a civil rights lawsuit claiming its policy of denying housing to all convicted felons had a disproportionate effect against minority applicants. The court agreed. MAA was forced to change its screening policies. They now permit flagged applicants to provide supporting documentation and inspect each case individually with consideration for time elapsed since the conviction, rehabilitation and circumstances surrounding the crime.
Landlord: LHP Capital, Knoxville, TN
Good Deed: This company evicted a 78 year old man from one of their properties in Niagara Falls, NY after finding marijuana in his government-subsidized apartment. The tenant has a prescription for medical marijuana and it is legal for medicinal purposes in the state of New York. But in a complete heel-face turn, the company revisited and reversed their zero-tolerance policy to allow him to return. The tenant was not terribly interested in returning but after spending six nights in homeless shelters following the eviction he was willing to accept their offer. Read more.
Landlord: Mickey Bambrick and Kory Slaatthaug, Seattle, WA
Good Deed: In honor of the 50 year anniversary of his father’s purchase of their apartment building, the enthusiastically religious couple took a cue from the Bible and forgave all of their tenants their debts, as instructed by the book of Deuteronomy. They waived rent for the whole building for the month of November, eating a $15,000 loss. Read more.
Landlord: Don Reuwer, Ellicott City, MD
Good Deed: Following catastrophic floods that wiped out many of the town’s businesses back in May, Reuwer offered storefront space for $1 for the Christmas season to a business owner who had been flooded out of the boutique she had run for the past 38 years. The space would normally rent for $3500 per month. Read more.
Landlord: Cynthia Deal, Cleveland, TN
Good Deed: Renting out her apartments to single moms recovering from drug addiction, and helping them with additional support ranging from college tuition, car payments, food, clothing, and supplies for homemade goods that the women can sell for extra money. Read More
Landlord: The North Valley Property Owners Association, Chico, CA
Good Deed: In response to the overwhelming demand for housing following the Camp Fire in California, the NVPOA created a website seeking to provide a central hub for listing available housing and linking up evacuees to landlords. Read more or visit campfirehousing.org.
Is there a landlord you feel belongs on this list? Drop us a note with a link to a reliable source and we may add them. And remember, if you want to avoid renting from a landlord that should be getting coal in their stocking, order a RentConfident report before you sign any apartment lease!
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