Monday, November 14, 2016

NY Gov, State AG Tag Toilet-Snatching NYC Landlord With Tenant Harassment Suit, Alleging Use Of Despicable Conduct In Attempt To Oust Long-Time Rent Stabilized Renters From Their Apartments & Replace Them With High-Paying Market-Rate Residents

On the Lower East Side of Manhattan, DNAInfo (New York) reports:
  • Following an investigation into the practices of property management company Marolda Properties, Inc., Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Attorney General Eric Schneiderman have filed a lawsuit against the company claiming it attempted to harass elderly rent-stabilized tenants out of their homes in Chinatown and the Lower East Side.

    Representatives for Marolda removed toilets from the apartments of elderly tenants at 13-15 Essex St. in August of this year and never replaced them, forcing the tenants — one of whom is disabled — to climb three flights of stairs to reach a restroom, according to Cuomo's office.

    This is just one instance of harassment tactics the landlord used against longtime tenants in an attempt to oust the rent-stabilized residents and put in market-rate tenants, according to the lawsuit the governor's office said it filed in New York Supreme Court.

    "This administration has no tolerance for those who seek to undermine the rights of tenants and use intimidation and harassment to deny them the protections they are entitled to under the law," Cuomo said in a statement.

    Marolda reps locked tenants out of their apartments at times, and subjected them to unsafe living conditions, such as switching off their gas and forcing them to use hot-plates to cook their food, the lawsuit claims.

    Marolda also tried to oust longtime tenants, many of whom were elderly and were not English proficient, by serving up phony notices claiming the tenants did not actually live in their apartments and had to clear out or face eviction proceedings, the lawsuit says.

    The landlord also engaged in construction-as-harassment tactics, according to the governor's office, carrying out renovations and repairs without required permits and even claiming the apartment buildings were vacant when applying for permits.

    The probe into Marolda began more than two years ago, when the Tenant Protection Unit of the New York state Division of Housing and Community Renewal(1) launched an investigation into the landlord's practices in response to complaints from community organizations speaking on behalf of Marolda tenants.
For more, see LES Landlord Removed Elderly Tenants' Toilets as Harassment Tactic: Cuomo.

For the New York Attorney General press release, see A.G. Schneiderman Files Lawsuit Against Property Management Company And Landlords For Harassing Tenants In Chinatown And The Lower East Side (Joint Investigation Between A.G. And Governor Cuomo’s Tenant Protection Unit Uncovers Alleged Deceptive And Illegal Conduct and Harassment -- Such As Engaging In Sham Legal Proceedings -- Against Rent-Regulated Tenants In Order To Coerce Tenants Into Signing Away Their Housing Rights).

For the lawsuit, see People v. Marolda Properties, Inc., et al.
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(1) According to the New York Attorney General's office:
  • Since 2012, the Tenant Protection Unit’s enforcement activities have led to the registration of over 53,000 improperly deregulated apartments and the recovery of over $2.8 million dollars in overcharged rent for unsuspecting tenants through settlement agreements and administrative proceedings.

    Tenants who believe they are the target of unlawful, deceptive or harassing behavior by landlords or their agents are urged contact the A.G. in order to file complaints online or call 1-800-771-7755. Tenants who live in rent regulated apartments and feel they are being harassed should also also contact the TPU at (718) 739-6400 or TPUinfo@nyshcr.org.

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