Please note: As of November 8th, 2022, this matter has been resolved. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) stepped in and had us both sign a concilation agreement. My lease has been renewed and the relationship between John and me is now very cordial. I'm very pleased that we were able to resolve this matter outside of housing court. I've decided for now to keep this site up as it's been providing many tenants resources for their own housing matters.
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TL;DR: my landlord is attempting to remove me from my apartment by doubling my rent after I reported him for refusing to fix my heat and a gas leak. His 10 buildings have been issued 271 HPD violations since 2010, 58 of which were deemed to be "immediately hazardous" to tenants. NY State has sued him 22 times for $610,538 in unpaid tax. It's clear that fines and lawsuits won't solve this problem, nor will continuing with the status quo: he's been a landlord for 49 years and fines and lawsuits have barely slowed him down. It's going to take emails and phone calls to public officials to take him down.
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Never forget: where there's people, there's power. Now is the time for us to exercise that power and force politicians, who we pay with our tax money, to do their jobs and protect us. Governments can and should be afraid of their people, and there's no reason change is limited to election day. Let's bury them in emails, let's clog their phone lines: let's let them know their job is at stake.
It starts with landlords, but it won't end there. This is just the beginning, my friends.
What he's done to me:
- From 12/30/21 to 1/13/22, he refused to fix my heat, even though the temperature was 19° degrees in NYC. During this period, I recorded temperatures as low as 46° in my apartment (picture here) and had to buy two space heaters to keep warm.
- Multiple times, without notice, dirty water has come out of my shower and faucet (video here).
- He told me he was going to double my rent so I would have to move (caught on video).
- When the tenant below me reported a leak, he opened up my wall revealing a comically broken pipe (video here).
- He refused to fix my ceiling when it was actively leaking dirty water (video here).
- He referred to the person who stole a package from the building as the n-word (and continued to after I told him he shouldn't say that).
- He gave me a lease renewal (picture here) and then after an argument with me gave notice he wasn't renewing my lease (picture here).
- When I reported a leak, he told me I should just move (screenshot here).
- The two times I reported the leak on my ceiling, he came weeks later and had the super plaster/paint over the leak rather than fixing the source of the leak (video here).
- He refused to fix two burners on my stove for 10 months. He told me I should "just use a match". When he gave notice of a $150 rent increase with the lease renewal, I told him I wouldn't sign it unless he got me a new stove. Two days later, he bought me a new stove.
- He left my apartment door and the building door propped open during a repair that resulted in my dog, Cosmo, going missing on the streets of Manhattan (video here). Thankfully someone scooped him up and handed him over to two cops who returned him to me (picture here). When I yelled at him for losing my dog (video here), he called the cops on me and then cried when they got there to try to garner sympathy (video here).
- He and the super have entered my apartment without notice or my permission while I wasn't home (I have since bought a security camera and an electronic keypad lock that I control).
- He refused to fix the gas leak that Con Ed detected in my apartment. For obvious safety reasons, Con Ed turned off my gas until he fixes it. In the meantime, I can't cook in the apartment (picture here).
- After calling him repeatedly to request he fix my heat, he blocked my phone number.
What he's done to others:
- When viewing the properties he owns, it reveals tenants have made 120 complaints to 311 and the HPD has issued 271 violations since 2010, 58 of which the HPD deemed to be "immediately hazardous" to tenants.
- 79 of these violations are still open as of 1/15/22, indicating he would rather pay thousands in fines a day than fix issues for tenants.
- Many of the reports against him are from his other buildings, which are in neighborhoods that are predominantly poor, making it harder for these tenants to fight back. We know he owns at least 10 buildings in NYC, containing a total of 140 apartments.
- One of my former neighbors said he once threatened their life. This neighbor also told me they went to housing court with him several times.
What he's done to the government and businesses:
- New York State has sued him 22 times since 2006 for unpaid tax. The aggregate tax they sued for is $610,538. Tap here to review the public records.
- Companies and hospitals have sued him 7 times since 1998 (presumably for not paying for goods and services they rendered). The aggregate amount they sued for is $46,355.
Other sketchy stuff:
- He appears to use at least 7 aliases in public records: John Kapetanos, John X Kapetanos, John S Kapetanos, John Steve Kapetanos, Johnny Kapetanos, Stefanos John Kapetanos, and Stefanos J Kapetanos.
- Each of his properties are owned by a different LLC. This is common practice in real estate, but it has the side effect of HPD violations not accruing on one entity and drawing attention. We were able to link them because they all use the same mailing address: his home. We've compiled a page here with all businesses (LLCs and Corporations), properties, residences, and associates that we've been able to link to him.
- He uses his family members' names when purchasing new properties for personal use.
- He appears to send his mail to the building even though he does not live in the building (picture here). We also found security footage of him opening and peeling labels off of some of the packages he had delivered to apartment 5C of the building, which again, he does not occupy (video here).
- In order to avoid paying postage, he puts the mail he sends tenants directly into their mailbox using keys he has (video here). Following a fight with him, I noticed that one letter and one package I had in my mailbox had been opened. The only people with a key to the mailbox are me, USPS, and him. Other tenants said they have felt uncomfortable about him having access to their mail and now have it delivered to another address.
What you can do to help:
- Have 10 seconds? Tap here to send an automated email to politicians who can start a formal investigation.
- Have 20 seconds? Tap here to share this site.
- Have 3 minutes? Leave a voicemail at the following numbers asking for an investigation. In the message, be sure to tell them to go to "takejohndown.com" for more information:
- 212-486-4430 (U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer)
- Your phone will automatically press 1, then you'll get voicemail.
- 1-800-771-7755 (NY State Attorney General's Complaint Line)
- Your phone will automatically press 1, then 0. Then you'll get voicemail.
- 212-788-2958 (NYC Mayor's Press Office)
- Should go straight to voicemail after she reads a short message.
- Have money? Make a donation to JustFix.nyc, a non-profit that builds free tools to help people fight back against bad landlords in NYC.
- Good at digging through Google? Help us uncover more bad stuff he's done. We've started #operationTakeJohnDown on Anonymous' IRC. Tap here to join the live chat.
If you also have a bad landlord:
Here are the resources we used to gather this information. All of the data we pulled was from public records.
- Tap here to open the 311 website, then tap on "Apartment Maintenance Complaint", then "Report a maintenance problem in an apartment", then fill out the form. If you tap "Building-Wide Maintenance Complaint", you can submit a complaint anonymously (just leave the apartment number blank) so your landlord will have no way of knowing it was you. NYC will send an inspector (mine came within 24 hours) who will go through the building looking for violations, which will cost your landlord hundreds of dollars in fines for each day they're not fixed.
- Who Owns What In NYC? – Shows you other buildings your landlord owns and how many 311 complaints and HPD violations they've received. Created by JustFix.nyc.
- Spokeo – Aggregates many public records tied to an individual. Search by name, email, phone, or address.
- NYC Open Data – NYC is very good about making its data public and standardized. This specific compilation of housing-related data sets was created by JustFix.nyc.
- PPP Loan Database – During the start of the pandemic, the government gave businesses large, forgivable loans so they could retain employees; lying on this application or misusing the funds can result in years in federal prison for your landlord.
- StreetEasy – Many New Yorkers use this site to find housing, but it also allows you to see documents associated with a property.
I'm Joe Puccio. I moved to New York in February 2021 and love living here. Where I live now, Greenwich Village, is the first place I've ever lived where I feel comfortable just being me. The only stain on my experience of New York is my landlord. After 11 months of putting up with him, I started to push back. Now he's retaliating by trying to force me out. I've reported everything to 311, the HPD, and a number of other relevant public officials and journalists (tap here for a full list), but nobody has taken action of any consequence. I've made a lot of close friends in my neighborhood and want to stay here, but all of the other apartments in the area cost $1,000 more per month now that rent prices have returned to their pre-pandemic levels, which I can't afford.
I'd like for this to be a proof of concept, to pave the way for the thousands of others to get help from strangers on the internet when they're harassed by their landlords; if we're successful with John, I'll transition this site into one that allows others to share stories of their landlord and which public officials we all can email and call to help them out.
Remember: "where there's people, there's power." – Fred Hampton.