This new tool helps NYC tenants fight back against landlord violations

Posted On Wed, December 5, 2018 By

Posted On Wed, December 5, 2018 By In affordable housing, Policy, real estate trends

Via City Realty

In an effort to demystify property ownership and management company networks across New York City,, a Brooklyn-based tenant advocacy nonprofit, launched a new tool today to help tenants easily obtain the information they need to deal with difficult landlords. The free tool, available at, aims to cut through some of the opaque practices of landlords, like the tendency to use a shell company or LLC to preserve their anonymity. The platform makes it possible to connect dots that are often hidden and will provide tenants, housing advocates, and local officials with the information to fight speculative behavior, harassment, and discrimination.

Who Owns What uses an algorithm built on NYC open data to conduct “property ownership mapping” that determines the buildings that a landlord or management company is associated with. It also includes data on code violations, evictions, and estimated changes in rent-regulated units in the building.

The primary source for this information comes from public data from Department of Housing Preservation and Development’s multiple dwelling registrations, which contains basic registration information for over 170,000 buildings in New York City.

Even though much of this data is already publicly available, most advocacy organizations don’t have the technical expertise to aggregate and analyze it in an actionable way. Without WoW, it can take multiple days or even weeks for City Council offices, tenant organizing groups, and legal aid providers to piece together a single landlord’s portfolio.

“Every New Yorker has the right to know who owns the building in which they live, especially tenants experiencing harassment and displacement,” Council Member Helen Rosenthal said in a statement. “Who Owns What is an extremely helpful new tool, particularly for tenants who do not have an attorney or other ways to track down vital information. With its user friendly format, WoW increases transparency and gives tenants a vital way to begin to address housing issues they may be facing.”

Since conducting a “soft-launch” among the advocacy community in early May 2018, over 20,000 successful searches have already been performed on the site. With the help of the tool, has already started putting together group cases against landlords with clear patterns of neglect, harassment, evictions, and deregulation of affordable units.

Explore “Who owns what in NYC?” here.


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