In a new three-part documentary series on YouTube, New York’s Worst Landlords filmmaker and comedian Jeff Seal spent three years tracking down the landlords on the annual Landlord’s Watchlist put out by New York City’s Public Advocate Office. You can imagine how that went down – it was not an easy task to track the landlords down. The offices of the landlords are usually just a notorious PO Box at 199 Lee Avenue in Brooklyn, and when he does manage to track one down, the landlord threatens to call the cops on Seal. So, he’s forced to go undercover as a bad landlord himself. But Seal also interviews traumatized tenants along with then-Public Advocate Letitia James (who has since become New York State Attorney General, other New York City public servants, and community housing activists.
You’ll find horrifying living situations like a bathroom in which you have to use an umbrella, ceilings caving in, urine leaks into apartments, rat infestations, tenants forced to pay for and fix building problems, and more.
Untapped New York talked to Seal about the experience of making the documentary and he says, “Almost every building we went to we very quickly and easily found people willing to talk to us about their problems they were having with their landlords. Conversely, we had an incredibly hard time finding a landlord who would actually sit down and talk to us.”
As for the goals of the docu-comedy genre, Seal says “We started work on this doc about three years ago and we worked incredibly hard on it! We wanted to strike a balance between a very serious expose of bad landlords and also making something that was funny and entertaining so more people might watch it.”
We’ve embedded all three episodes of New York’s Worst Landlords for you to watch here, each episode is about twenty minutes long. Enjoy!