UPDATE:  The new L&I Commissioner, David Perri, just contacted me to let me know the hot mess behind 2317 E SERGEANT ST is going out to bid for an emergency demolition TODAY.

bank-foreclosure-generic-722

A week back I ran this feature-creature on what to do with a landlord that’s going broke.  That feature of course centered on a landlord, Anthony M. Cancelliere.

Since that story ran I’ve had 9 of his current and ex-tenants come forward to me to unload after I posted one ex-tenant’s exchange with him.  All his current tenants who have read the piece are of course worried that they may lose their rental (that’s not really in the cards–at least not the specific ones that contacted me, I checked on those), and of course because he appears to be broke, that nothing will ever get repaired again ever.

Broke landlords are a problem.

Especially ones that are as broke as this:

“Credit One Bank”, a subprime lender that markets its credit card products to the sub-600 FICO score range, sued him and got a default judgment.   That’s pretty broke for a landlord.

When you have a landlord that is in this state there is no way you could ever expect major repairs to a building in a short period of time, especially for something critical such as the heating system.  Another recurring theme going on with Cancelliere is that he has a bad habit of not paying water bills.  Multiple tenants have told me this.   He’s not just skipping a few months, but just not paying it all during the whole period of the lease contract, up to the point where tenants turn on the tap or flush the toilet and then nothing happens–which takes more than six months of nonpayment.

Let me show you.    First, let’s log into the Municipal Court docketing system and do a search where someone has been sued, like this:

2016-01-07_20-54-46

Now let’s see what the court has on file HOLY MOTHER OF GOD

2016-01-07_20-58-17

See that at the bottom of that picture??!!

2016-01-07_20-58-17

Well, the first two numbers after “CE” is the year the case was first docketed.   CE by the way stands for code enforcement, it’s where the City is suing you for property and tax issues that carry fines below $20,000 or don’t result in a lien.   Next to Anthony’s name in the middle column it shows you what agency or party sued him.

To get his recent lawsuits we have to go over to Page 2 and ignore this other mountain of cases.  In the middle are the 15’s and there’s even a 16-… which means the City just sued him yet again just a couple days ago (that was for a water bill over $2,000).

2016-01-07_21-03-16

He also gets sued over not taking out rental licenses on his properties.

Considering that no landlord in Philadelphia can get a valid rental license without being current on their property taxes, which denies them access to the courts to evict tenants for nonpayment of rent, I am wondering how Cancelliere is juggling that.

Another thing you might notice if you’re following along and doing a court search to see how I did one here is that sometimes his own tenants sue him.   Here’s one of several examples of that:

2016-01-07_21-16-57

I haven’t really looked at his real estate tax bills yet but I need a scotch and soda after looking at this court docket.  I can’t even.

What Should Landlords Like This Do?

Anthony, I know you’re listening—you called my lawyer within two hours of me posting about you the last time.   You need to sell off some of your real estate empire.  You can’t afford the maintenance and you’re not doing the maintenance on many of your properties, some of which are in choice locations like my own neighborhood.  I don’t know why you think transferring some of your holdings to your wife Janine is gonna help anything, it’s not.   You’re still not doing maintenance and you never follow through with your word.

In fact, you have an outdoor squatter right now camping out behind one of your rentals, 2317 E SERGEANT ST, and we’ve called the 26th District, the Department of Licenses and Inspections who visited your wonderful property a couple weeks ago (and condemned it).  Talking to you is a no-go because you have a mountain of excuses to give and it’s all lies.   Everyone is tired of hearing it.   It’s not just the rentals you own down where I live either.  People are up in arms about you in Tacony and in Mayfair.   There’s immediate neighbors to your properties spread across five whole zip codes that are sick of it.

Dude, you are broke.  Your tenants know it, the property owners next to your holdings know it, Bobby Henon knows it, the civics know it, everyone knows it.   You need to pull the lever and file for personal bankruptcy (call my buddy Isaac Slepner, he can file you a quick 7 or 13) and clear your personal creditors and start picking which properties you think you can manage and put the others up for sale and let an investor who can maintain the property have a go at it rather than building up this huge conga line of angry tenants and pissed-off neighbors.

No one thinks you’re an evil guy or the Anti-Christ.   It’s just fucking obvious that you have no idea how to manage a property portfolio this large.   Yes, yes, you bought a ton of shit at the housing peak and got ruined by the Great Recession.   The investors who were wiped out all went BK and started over.   You are now eight years behind everybody else.

And answer the phone calls from the realtors who want to buy your stuff.   They want to help you unload your mess if you’ll just talk to them.

We are tired of having to call 311.  We are tired of having to complain to the district councilperson.  We are tired of having to call the police.  We are tired.

Anthony, fix your nightmare.   I don’t care that Councilman Bobby Henon rents an office from you or that you’re a true son of the Northeast and a swell guy.  Nobody gives a shit.

Not when we have to put up with this shit in a good neighborhood.

 

Enough already.

 

Tags: | | | | |

HOT TIP:  Want to see if a property is late on its property taxes?  Click here.

Department of Licenses and Inspections commissioner Carlton Williams contacted Philadelinquency to let us know a promised computer system meant to block the issuance of licenses, in particular the Housing Inspection License, has resulted in landlords having their rental license permits being thrown in the wastebasket because they owe back property tax.

As you know, this is an issue that PDQ has been pushing hard for years.  In 2013 and 2014, Philadelinquency was sending lists of many landlords throughout Philadelphia to L&I with proven tax arrears, inquiring why L&I had renewed the rental licenses when the Philadelphia Code forbids the license to be issued.  The reason for that is that L&I has limited visibility into the Revenue Department’s systems and it’s not standard procedure to look into their data.  Instead, L&I demands that permit applicants obtain a tax clearance certificate, which isn’t that difficult to forge.

The amount of money that has been collected from deadbeat landlords has skyrocketed since the inception of the new computer checks.  Take a look:

Tax Revenue from Deadbeat Landlords

 

The Revenue Department has recovered nearly a million dollars from deadbeat landlords now that their rental applications have been blocked until they pay off the back taxes.

This isn’t the last of it though.   There are still more unregistered landlords throughout the city who do not obtain rental permits for their buildings.  There is another roadblock for those people:  evictions.    You cannot evict a tenant using Landlord-Tenant Court without showing the court a valid rental license that is in-force.

So any unlicensed landlord that is renting out property is taking a gamble that they will not ever need to use the eviction process.  Should they need to, the only way to get access to the courts is to pay off the real estate taxes before they can get a valid rental license.

Richard Basciano's vacant building fell and destroyed the Salvation Army store next door, killing 6
Richard Basciano’s vacant building fell and destroyed the Salvation Army store next door, killing 6 [centercityteam.com]
Who can forget the tragedy that befell the 2200 block of Market Street back in the summer of 2013.   Slumlord Richard Basciano, who has tightly held his grip on his properties on the 2100 block of Market Street, took out permits to demolish structures he owns and then hired a shady contractor, Griffin Campbell, to do the work.   While the details of what happened next are the subject of legal disputes and its own Wikipedia page, one fact is certain… a masonry wall several stories high was left standing without any lateral support.

The Salvation Army store next door remained open as the masonry wall collapsed mid-morning in an avalanche of bricks with over a dozen patrons inside.   A dozen were trapped and six were killed.   The L&I inspector that was assigned to check up on the project later committed suicide in the wake of intrigue that followed.

Richard Basciano's vacant building fell and destroyed the Salvation Army store next door, killing 6
Richard Basciano’s vacant building fell and destroyed the Salvation Army store next door, killing 6

After the collapse the Salvation Army donated the land the store once stood (left most strip on picture above) on to the City of Philadelphia and it’s now owned by the Department of Public Property.   The land under the five story building next door that collapsed still belongs to Richard Basciano.

An interesting permit has appeared on four contiguous Basciano-owned properties on this block, including the empty lot next door to the former Salvation Army:

FOR THE ESTABLISHMENT OF A UNITY OF USE TO CREATE ONE (1) LOT FOR ZONING PURPOSES WITH RESTRICTIVE COVENANTS AND AGREEMENTS TO BE RECORDED BY DEED TO BIND CURRENT AND FUTURE OWNERS OF THE CONTIGUOUS THREE (3) PARCELS TO PRESERVE THE UNITY OF USE AND THE LEGALITY OF THE ENTIRE PROJECT THAT STEMS FROM THE SINGLE ZONING LOT TREATMENT. PRIOR TO ISSUANCE OF CERTIFICATE OF OCCUPANCY, PROOF OF RECORDATION OF EASEMENTS, AGREEMENTS AND RESTRICTIVE COVENANTS MUST BE SUPPLIED.

Obviously this use permit is worded to be vague.  It doesn’t describe what the desired use is.   This is probably going to depress you, but it appears that Basciano wants to convert the lots use for 2136-38 Market Street into surface parking.   He’s doing it by arguing that he’s using his other properties next door for parking, so why not this one as well?

Last August an unusual recording appeared in the City’s deed and mortgage recording system announcing that four of Bascino’s properties on this block should share a similar use: parking, with attendant.

But here’s the deal: parking was not the use of 2136-38 Market Street before or during the time he has owned it.  He’s creating a new use for this property arguing that the adjacent uses exist so it should just spread over to this property as well.   And I’m sure if no-one pays attention here, this will likely go through completely unchecked until he gets contractors in to throw asphalt down.

I am absolutely thrilled a man who’s decisions led to a chain reaction of death and destruction and a suicide is pursuing his dreams to create an ugly surface lot.  That will make whatever planned memorial/park on the Salvation Army site look beautiful.

I sure hope the fucking Center City Residents Association and Center City District wake the fuck up from their slumber and step up to stymie this horrible idea (i.e., appeal the permit to L&I and force a hearing).

213X Market Street – Deed Miscellaneous

(To the peanut gallery: This doco is signed “John H. Lombardi” but that’s who signs most of Basciano’s documents.)

Tags: | |

Meet 4600 Vista Street.

2015-01-13_07-58-07

It’s up in Holmesburg.   The house is notable in the papers lately for one thing—three murdered people were found inside.  This started to cause some alarm citywide as normally that sort of thing isn’t terribly common.  Once it was learned that all the victims were adult males and all had rap sheets a mile long, everyone breathed a sigh of relief.

Here’s the landlord, Al Schultz:

Al Schultz in front of the rental house [Inky]
Al Schultz in front of the rental house [Inky]
Apparently those trespassers weren’t shot.  While Al here pays his property taxes and makes sure to get a rental license, he probably did not screen his tenants to discover their backgrounds since he overlooked that he was renting out to drug dealers who had easily-visible criminal histories.

Background checks of course cost money; but by not doing them, Al here now has cleaning bills to pay and will probably have to do quite a bit of carpet rip-out.   Assuming the drug dealers don’t have friends to swing past to pick up the furniture, now Al has to figure out what to do with all their stuff as well.  What a mess, right?

How do you do background checks on prospective tenants, you ask?

  • Require a prospective tenant to produce a valid state and/or Federal ID or a valid passport
  • When it’s time to sign the lease, save copies of this ID.  You can go to a convenience store with the tenant and make copies at places like 7-11 or ask your property manager to make a copy. Require it of every person who is going to be living in the property.  You’ll need it if the police ever find you and start asking questions about your tenants.
  • Put this requirement in your house listing.  Sure, it’s going to scare away plenty of prospective tenants–but it will scare away nearly all of the ones you don’t want to rent to anyway, making your life as a landlord easier
  • You can do the checks yourself.   Here’s one site where you can order them up easily.

You can also use the Common Pleas Criminal Court search on Philadelinquency over on the right-hand side, which is free.  You can search the name and DOB on the tenant’s ID and search conviction records in Pennsylvania although sites like Intelius will do national searches and are more thorough plus they ignore records that you’re legally-obligated to ignore, like arrests with no associated conviction.

There’s another big reason to do background checks:  drug forfeitures.   Landlords in the Northeast have been finding themselves the target of asset forfeitures over the last several years as they have been repeatedly renting out their properties from one drug dealer to another.   You may luck-out and get a clean background report and still have a drug murder on your hands to call SERV-PRO to clean-up, but it’s a lot less likely.   Many offenders begin their crime-careers and have a record at a young age and the arrests happen frequently into adulthood.

It’s up to you to determine what to do with information you find in a tenant’s background.  If you advertised that you do these checks, you will likely not get people with serious convictions in their background.   One of the things you should look for is how recent the convictions were.   My suggested rule of thumb is 15 years; if it’s been at least 15 years since the last time this person was arrested and convicted, you’re probably fine.  If there’s a lot of convictions, I would probably not rent the house to the prospect.

If you’re doing this background check on a tenant who’s already renting from you and alarm bells go off–then the only suggestion I have for you is to make regular inspections of the property.  If the tenant gets combative about it, then prepare to not renew the lease and evict–and tell the tenant as such.   Make sure to give 24-hours notice to the tenant when you plan to arrive to inspect the property.  Look out for warning signs, like boarders the tenant didn’t tell you about living inside and things a tenant with a felony conviction should not have–like guns in the unit.   If you don’t stay on top of your property, you’ll attract the attention of neighbors, who will then become proactive about other faults you might have, like your ability to pay the taxes, water and gas bills, L&I violations and so-on.

And you certainly don’t want your property paraded here for the entire city to see on Philadelinquency.

If you don’t do a background check, the only person you’re screwing is yourself.

Tags: | | |

The Inky did some coverage Friday of a property collapse that has caused severe damage to its twin next door.

125 W Roosevelt Blvd
127 Roosevelt Blvd is on the left, 125 is on the right

The story is the usual–an extremely long history of L&I violations, an absentee landlord, a rental property and no valid L&I rental license.

On top of that, this owner went to some extreme lengths to hide their identity… a limited liability corporation, registered in DelawarePhiladelphia Land & Building Co. LLC,  owns the house which in turn on the deed has used an address of a dilapidated rowhome deep in North Philly: 2235 N 19th St, which in turn has a New York City owner:

Another LLC owns this house but it's likely it's the same owner, and they're in New York
Another LLC owns this house but it’s likely it’s the same owner, and they’re in New York

Almost anyone would give up about this point trying to figure out who owns this fucking mess, right?   Well… the Inky somehow forgot that we live in the most litigious city in America and it’s likely that a property owner like this has been sued over something… anything.  Usually inside lawsuits you can find lots of juicy details about people’s alleged behavior as well as evidence submitted into the record that reveals a whole lot more about who the property owner really is.

And wouldn’t you believe it… another NYC absentee property investor has sued Philly Land & Building Co. back in 2009 alleging fraud in a real estate lawsuit.  A miss Tanya Guerrero filed a fraud lawsuit in Common Pleas court back in 2009 alleging that she was the victim of misrepresentation when she sought to purchase an investment (read: rental) property at 2512 W Diamond Street in Strawberry Mansion.  Tanya’s lawyer points directly at a Robert Nunez and a F.I.V.A. Corp as being responsible for her woes, and she captions the address of Nunez and F.I.V.A. at the same exact house as Philadelphia Land & Building Co.

In the suit, Tanya then mentions that F.I.V.A. offered a “real estate system” whereby start-up investors could launch a profitable real estate portfolio using their tools, contractors and expertise.  One of the contractors mentioned was to make repairs to dilapidated homes to prep them for sale or to rent.  Tanya asserts that Nunez primarily deals with shell properties.

Tanya then goes on to state that she thought she was buying a fixer-upper, not a shell, and that she could turn it into a triplex and have three rent checks even though the Philadelphia Zoning Code would require that to go through the zoning exception process.

In the end of this case, the Strawberry Mansion RCO was willing to work with Tanya to help her get zoning for her ill-advised investment property and she did finally secure a valid rental license.  She settled out of court before the case could go to trial.

Something tells me Mr. Nunez probably has some explaining to do about the Olney building collapse, if this court case is any indication of how they operate.

Philadelphia Land and Building Co Fraud Complaint

Tags: | |