Some Landlords Just Want To Watch (Your) World Burn

Romolo Tavani /
Romolo Tavani /

Most everyone has been there at some point: renting from the landlord from hell. From repairs that aren’t done promptly (if at all) to intrusive excuses to come in unannounced, they make life a living hell. Yet NYC landlord Rafiqul Islam is a special kind of landlord. He’s a master of destruction; he just wants to watch your whole world burn.

Announced on November 3rd, law enforcement agents arrested Islam on charges of arson for his fiery antics against allegedly nonpaying tenants. According to a message on X (aka Twitter) from NYPD officials, “Islam was angry his 2nd-floor tenants stopped paying rent, refused to move out, so he set fire to an interior staircase.” Two adults and six children escaped his September 26th inferno. Neighbors remarked on him as a calm kind of guy who just visited his properties to keep up with them.

For his second-floor tenants, the roof was the only way out. First-floor resident Shatfiqul Islam told CBS News, “Six kids and their mother and father, they were on the roof, trying to throw the kids and telling us, ‘Take them, take them!!’” Despite the smoke, heat, and panic, he was able to help them save four of the kids.

In total, it took a crew of 60 fire and emergency medical services personnel to help the victims, and they contained the fire after an hour. Several people sustained only minor injuries and were taken to a local hospital for treatment and released. Red Cross officials have helped those displaced by the fire and are helping them with shelter for now.

FDNY officials seemed almost apologetic for taking weeks to unearth an image of Islam without his hood and mask down and make a proper identification. Per the FDNY, he is facing eight charges in total, including attempted murder, assault, and arson.

Charges like these are the least they can do for his victims. These families (both the target as well as others) are now facing months, if not a year or more, without a normal living situation. Housing in NYC is not easy to come by, and in this instance, they lost most, if not everything they own. Between fire, smoke, water, and heat damage, most of the building and its contents are likely unusable and unsavable.

With the massive influx of illegals taking over NYC, landlords are looking to clear out every person who is late on rent or not paying their fully ballooned totals. They see the dollar signs these illegals bring with them and the security of federally-backed rent as a great thing. Landlords like Islam are going to become exceptionally more common in the coming months, especially as things begin to get colder.

Stopping the payment of rent and refusing to vacate are illegal actions. That being said, there is a right and a wrong way to evict people and to avoid sending yourself to jail. Not to mention avoiding the destruction of your assets. Through a court and filing the proper paperwork is the right answer. As tempting as a fire sale might be given the current situation in the country, it doesn’t curry favor with the public for your plight.

Islam’s actions are deeply troubling. This isn’t a choice made by a smart or sane man. Here in the US, actions like these are reprehensible. We have a court and a way of doing things to keep law and order. His decisions here are in clear violation of that order, and much the same, we have a way of ensuring he gets justice for his actions as well. Likely keeping his property or gaining any insurance check he hoped to get is out of order. What should happen, though, is a lengthy jail sentence and some serious fines. Then again, this is NYC; he’ll probably just be ordered to take some night classes on arson and clean up trash for two weekends.