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An Eyesore Like No Other In Bronx: Tree Grows Through Dilapidated Home

Public Advocate De Blasio Says New York City's Worst Landlord Is At It Again

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Rodents running rampant; bugs and trash littered everywhere. Imagine living next to a home with a tree literally growing out of the roof.

CBS 2 investigative reporter Tamara Leitner got a closer look at the Riverdale home left in ruins that’s not just annoying — it’s downright dangerous.

One look at the abandoned house in Riverdale and you know exactly why the neighbors are so upset. The shingles have fallen off. You can see holes in the roof. A tree is actually growing out of the house. And garbage and machinery is strewn all over the yard.

“It smells. It’s dangerous. When it rains you can smell the mold, not to mention the rats and raccoons,” neighbor Nancy Dorris said.

Other neighbors said they have complained repeatedly to New York City officials.

“It’s really disgusting,” Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz said.

Dinowitz said he recently called the city Department of Health about the deplorable condition of the house.

“At a bare minimum at least fix this mess up so we don’t have to look at it and it doesn’t pose a danger to anyone,” Dinowitz said.

Signs near the house say the Department of Health used rat poison on the site about a week ago.

Public records show the house was purchased in 2006 for more than $3 million. The property is owned by a real estate company called 620 Blackstone, LLC, run by Josh Neustein.

Neustein owns several rental properties in the area and lives only a few miles away from this home, also in the fancy Riverdale section of the Bronx.

A woman inside the home told Leitner she was at the wrong address, but neighbors and public records confirmed the residence owned by Neustein.

He was named to the city’s worst landlord list in 2012 by Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, with 753 open hazardous violations on five buildings.

“Once we know someone has an extraordinary number of violations, we bring public attention to the situation. We help organize the tenants and we work with city Department of Housing to increase enforcement,” de Blasio said.

But Leitner asked de Blasio why, with more than 700 violations, Neustein is still in business.

“Now that we know he’s resurfaced, we’ll go after him,” de Blasio said.

Neighbors said it’s about time.

“This is a disgrace,” Dorris said.

“They should knock it down,” neighbor Gail Harringstanger added.

So just to be clear, Neustein had 753 violations on five properties he owns. But on this one Leitner visited Wednesday, records indicate there have been three complaints and just one violation issued.

Neustein is scheduled to be in court next month.

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