Rick Aidekman and the Crazy World of NYC Landlords

This entry is part 8 of 14 in the series Rick Aidekman and the crazy world of NYC Landlords

Dracula Part 6:

In my first article about dealing with some of the most difficult Landlords in NYC, I made a brief reference to the contract execution and closing with Dracula.   I will give a bit more depth to it in this article.    We originally wanted to purchase six, then 8 then 12 of Dracula’s properties as his world deteriorated and the pressure was on from the City and the  Tenants (as well as the Press).    Ultimately, after months of negotiations, much of which Dracula conducted from the Bronx House of Detention, we concluded an agreement on 12 properties and contracts signed.   As I discussed in my first article, while we were having a late sandwich buffet at our counsel’s office, I looked around to see where Dracula was in order to toast the execution of the contracts.   He was at the table where the signed contracts were scratching out something with his pen.   My attorney and I approached only to see that he was scratching out the prices and putting in higher numbers.  When questioned, he said that he should have gotten more money, so he was raising the prices.    His own counsel took the documents and handed them over to our attorney.    This was evidence of what was to come.  

As our counsel conducted his work on assuring we would obtain good title to the properties, he discovered that Dracula misrepresented the fact that he was the sole owner of all 12 properties.   It turned out that his brother was co-owner, with equal rights, on 6 of the properties.    Of course, his brother refused to agree to the sale.   The public pressure on Dracula was so harsh at this stage, that he gave us a discount on the remaining 6 properties to move faster to a closing.   At this point, as the Receiver was utilizing all the cash flow in making repairs, no money was going to service the debt on the properties and the lenders were starting foreclosure actions on all of his properties.   The cash that Dracula was to receive on the sale to us, would help him through dealing with his brother on the other properties by offering him a bigger piece of the proceeds than called for in their agreement.  

Once in contract, we met with the City department that issued the multitude of violations and that had obtained the Court order inserting a Receiver.  Turned out, we were lucky.   The City had a reasonable decent individual appointed as Receiver, who, although receiving a lucrative income from operating the properties, he was spending the money fairly wisely and honestly.   We had our own list of improvements that we wanted to make to each of the properties, which it turned out was more expansive than what the City was hoping for, including, among other items, new windows, new boiler/burners, new roofs, upgraded elevators, new lobby doors and clearing all violations.    To show our good faith, we agreed to the re-imposition of the Receiver if 90% of the proposed work was not completed within a year, which it was.   

We then met with t the tenants in each of the buildings.   They were both excited and skeptical at the same time.   As in any situation, there were those who were willing to give you a chance and those that thought all owners were the same, and that means “evil.”     We laid out our plans and that if we failed them, the Receiver would be back.   We also asked for their input, and outside of individual claims for repairs, there were other issues of note, such as; hallway and stairway lighting and more importantly, dealing with difficult tenants, drug dealers and out of control teens.    The lighting was clearly the easy task.   Dealing with problem tenants, well, a tough job for anyone.    This would require the assistance of the residents and their willingness to identify those tenants that they thought were real problems.   They agreed and cooperated.    In response, we hired a security firm with a patrol car circulating among our six  properties and gave their contact information to the tenant leaders.   At this time, there were no cell phones, so the contact was both our head of security and the dispatcher at the security company’s office.    With our support, the tenant leaders sent a delegation to each of the residents to let them know that the other tenants were unhappy with them, the new owners were advised, that there were now security guards, just a call away and that the police would be in the loop.    Although, this was not a panacea, it brought results, modest at first and more significant over time as the difficult tenants knew their behavior, and in some cases, they, were no longer welcome.   

At the end of the day, and several years later, the tenants were happy, the City was happy, and we were successful with the properties.   The saga of the Dracula Landlord didn’t end there,

In my next article I will discuss a number of “anecdotes” about our experience with Dracula.

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