Saturday, May 28, 2016

NYC Non-Profit Advocacy Group Scores Big Lawsuit $ettlement On Behalf Of Several Rent Regulated Tenants Who Used Electronic Devices To Secretly Record Notorious Landlord/Agents' Illegal Efforts Intended To Hound Them Out Of Their East Village Apartments; NYS Officials' Joint Probe Into Harassment Claims Continues

In New York City, The Real Deal (NYC) reports:
  • Raphael Toledano agreed to pay north of $1 million to settle claims that he harassed tenants at one of his East Village buildings, sources told The Real Deal.

    The settlement between Toledano, a broker-turned-multifamily investor who runs Brookhill Properties, and several rent-stabilized tenants at the six-story, 16-unit walk-up at 444 East 13th Street was finalized May 6, court records show.

    Stephanie Rudolph, a lawyer at the Urban Justice Center(1) who represented the tenants, called the settlement “very satisfactory.” She declined to comment on the terms of the agreement.

    In May 2015, the tenants filed a suit in New York City’s Housing Court against Toledano and independent property manager Goldmark Property Management for allegedly taking illegal measures to pressure them to move out.

    Tenants in eight of the apartments secretly recorded conversations with the landlord, building agents and the property manager, the New York Times reported in October.(2) The tenants claimed the landlord’s agent told them police were investigating drug use and prostitution at the building, said rents would soon soar, and the upcoming demolition of a building next door would make living at the property difficult. All these conversations, the tenants claimed, were meant to scare them into vacating.

    Last year, the judge ordered Toledano to halt construction work inside the building.

    The New York Attorney General’s office and the state Homes and Community Renewal’s tenant protection unit launched a joint investigation into the harassment claims in August. That investigation is ongoing.
Source: Toledano to pay $1M-plus in settlement of EV tenant harassment suit (AG still investigating rent-stabilized renters' claims they were pressured to vacate).
(1) The Urban Justice Center is a non-profit legal services and advocacy organization serving the New York City area. It serves the city's most vulnerable residents through a combination of direct legal service, systemic advocacy, community education and political organizing. It describes itself as an interconnected network of anti-poverty initiatives, and its activities range from one-on-one legal advice in soup kitchens, to filing class action lawsuits to bring about systemic change, to pushing social justice legislation forward.

(2) See Tenants in New York Press the Record Button in a Dispute With the Landlord (tenants have caught on to the usefulness of the electronic devices in their pockets, even in cases with little physical evidence, [...] now, in one case, they have made covert recordings of the people residents claim have been hassling them).