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Landlord Who Bilked Banks out of Millions of Dollars Sued for Harassment

An East Village landlord who was recently arrested for allegedly taking out millions of dollars in loans through fraudulent means is also facing a civil lawsuit filed by New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. According to an article by Crains New York Business, it is alleged that the landlord illegally harassed tenants in the rent-regulated apartments he owned by attempting to have them evicted so he could charge higher rents.

Steven Croman, who owned 140 buildings in Manhattan, obtained $45 million in loans from New York Community Bank and Capital One Bank between 2012 and 2014 by exaggerating the amount of income his properties generated, according to Schneiderman. That allowed him to obtain favorable terms with the banks. In addition to these allegations, the Attorney General’s office claims that Croman racked up over $1 million in unpaid fines he amassed for construction and building code violations. The violations came when Croman instructed construction firms to perform work without a permit as a way to get the tenants to move out. The work also exposed the tenants to lead dust.

According to the lawsuit, Croman and his company 9300 Realty, would buy up apartment buildings with rent-regulated units, then buy out the tenants so he can increase the rents. Those who refused the buyouts were subject to lawsuits. He would also not deposit the tenants’ rent checks then claim they were behind in their rent. He hired a private investigator who — along with some of the 9300 Realty employees — allegedly used intimidation tactics on the tenants to get them to move out.

If you feel that your rights as a lawful tenant have been threatened or violated, contact Tanya Hobson-Williams, P.C. to learn about the protections available to you under New York State Law.

New Law Grants Tenants Greater Protection from Gentrification

Mayor de Blasio recently passed a law that would grant greater protection to tenants and prevent landlords from forcing them to move out of rent controlled and rent stabilized apartments.

The law is designed to prevent landlords from forcing tenants to move from rent controlled and stabilized apartments so that landlords can then re-rent the apartments and charge higher rents.  Violation of the new law will result in significant fines.  Landlords may face penalties for a first time offense ranging from $1,000 to $10,000 for engaging in prohibited tactics in an attempt to get tenants to vacate.  Fines up to $20,000 may be imposed for additional violations.

The new law provides that:

  • Landlords may not make a buyout offer within 180 days of a tenant refusing an offer;
  • Landlords may not threaten tenants;
  • Landlords may not contact tenants at unusual hours;
  • Landlords may not induce tenants to move out by providing false information;
  • Landlords must inform tenants that they may remain in their apartment;
  • Landlords are also required to inform the tenants that they may wish to get advice from an attorney;

No tenant should have to live in fear that they will be thrown out of their home, or be retaliated against for refusing to move out.  If you feel that your rights as a tenant have been violated, contact the skilled New York City landlord-tenant attorneys at the Law Office of Tanya Hobson-Williams. Please contact us online, toll free (866) 825-1529 or (718) 210-4744 to discuss your rights as a tenant and the solutions available to you.

New Bill Proposal Aims to Give More Rights to Tenants

Tanya Hobson-Williams, NY AttorneyA major problem for many buildings in New York City is leaking water which causes plaster to collapse and mold to grow.  Many residents who face this issue are renters and not home owners. As such, these individuals have to wait for their landlords to address the problem while the problem, itself, persists or worsens.

Two years ago, New York City adopted a law that required landlords repair the “underlying conditions” that cause mold to flourish and ceilings to collapse. The problem is that in New York City, which houses nearly 3.5 million apartments, there is only enough resources to target 50 buildings a year for “underlying conditions orders.”

Indeed records show that since the law was passed in 2013, the city has targeted only 69 buildings, including thirty six in Brooklyn, twenty in the Bronx, eight in Manhattan, four in Queens, and one in Staten Island. Continue reading “New Bill Proposal Aims to Give More Rights to Tenants”

Attorney General Focuses on Landlord-Tenant Harassment Claim

Tanya Hobson-WilliamsNew York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has launched an investigation into the allegedly illegal tactics used to force rent-stabilized tenants out of their homes implemented by multi-million dollar landlord, Steven Croman.

According to reports, the Attorney General is investigating potential violations of city and state laws, including numerous infractions related to tenant harassment.

This week Schneiderman issued a “cease and desist” order to one of Cromans employees, ex-NYPD officer Anthony Falconite.  Tenants allege that Falconite, a private investigator, has engaged in a campaign of harassment and intimidation in an effort to force them out.

According to recounts by numerous tenants, Croman regularly files frivolous lawsuits, ignores repairs, and resorts to a number of unsavory tactics in an effort to remove current tenants so that he can rent units at much higher rates. Continue reading “Attorney General Focuses on Landlord-Tenant Harassment Claim”

Buyouts as a Method of Tenant Harassment

Tanya Hobson-WilliamsAs New York City rent prices continue to increase, the demand for housing has made rent-controlled apartments an even more precious commodity. Indeed, many landlords seeking to earn a sizeable profit in the current sellers’/renter’s market have engaged in “buying out” their tenants’ lease agreements.

In some situations, a buyout can effect a sizeable and worthwhile payout to both the landlord and the tenant. However, there has become an increasing trend of meager buyout offers to lower-income tenants. These paltry offers, if successful, have the potential to displace lower income individuals in the face of New York’s ever increasing rental prices. Furthermore, recent reports have suggested that these buyout offers have been used more as instruments of illegal tenant harassment than simple mutually-beneficial business propositions. Continue reading “Buyouts as a Method of Tenant Harassment”

Bronx Landlord Accused of Race Discrimination

Tanya Hobson-WilliamsA Bronx landlord is accused of discriminating against prospective black tenants, telling them there are no vacancies available moments after telling white applicants that the building has open apartments. According to the lawsuit, secret recordings were made by undercover testers that allegedly revealed blatant discrimination by the landlord via hidden microphones.

The Fair Housing Justice filed the federal lawsuit against J.J.A. Holding Corp., a company accused of lying to prospective black tenants who were inquiring about two buildings in the Woodlawn section of the Bronx. In both cases, audio recordings catch rental agent Ray Brij-Raj telling the black candidates that there were no vacancies in the buildings right after he told white candidates there were, the suit alleges. Continue reading “Bronx Landlord Accused of Race Discrimination”

Discrimination Against Tenants in Brooklyn

Tanya Hobson-WilliamsTenants in Brooklyn, New York are claiming their landlord is discriminating against them and trying to force them out of their rent-controlled apartment. African American tenants of Homewood Gardens Estates in the Prospect Lefferts Garden neighborhood have filed a federal lawsuit against the complex and owner Yeshaya Wasserman. They allege the landlord failed to make repairs and seldom cashed rent checks in a scheme to evict them from their rent-controlled apartments. Residents claim white and Asian tenants don’t face the same treatment

“He fails routinely to cash rent checks and then turns around and sues plaintiffs for allegedly not paying their rent,” attorney for the residents, Pavita Krishnaswamy said. One woman who’s lived at the apartment complex for over 14 years said she’s gone without hot water for over a week and the landlord barely ever responded to her countless repair requests over the years. Continue reading “Discrimination Against Tenants in Brooklyn”

Landlord Accused of Denying Tenants’ Plans to Build a Gay Bar

Tanya Hobson-WilliamsThe owner of an establishment named Lulu’s in Brooklyn New York is worried about going out-of-business after his Long Island based landlord denied his attempts to convert his business into a gay bar earlier this April.

Tenant John McGillion, had hoped to revitalize his pub and take advantage of the growing gay and lesbian population in the Greenpoint area. However, a clause in his lease agreement stated “The leased Premises shall be used by Tenant as a restaurant and bar. It shall not be used for adult entertainment and shall not be operated as a gay or lesbian bar and/or restaurant.”

As a result of the clause, McGillion maintains that he is unable to make ends meet and argued in his filing documents that he is “barely scraping by on the proceeds of the bar,” all as a direct consequence of the unfair lease clause. He added: “If I am permitted to operate a gay bar at the premises I believe that I will be able to make a considerable profit.” Continue reading “Landlord Accused of Denying Tenants’ Plans to Build a Gay Bar”

Bronx Residents Claim Landlord Is Ignoring Tenant Safety

Tanya Hobson-WilliamsBronx residents and local officials are urging a Jerome Park landlord to update security after a string of burglaries at the Bronx apartment building. Tenants of the building claim they have been robbed blind over the past two years, and some are even convinced that it may be an inside job.

Despite reporting the thefts to the 52nd Precinct and landlord (American Rental Masters), tenants at the 49-unit building say nothing has been done.  They claim that the thefts have been a tenant safety issue for over 2 years!

Continue reading “Bronx Residents Claim Landlord Is Ignoring Tenant Safety”

New York City Tenant Sues Landlord for Negligence

Tanya Hobson-WilliamsAlmost everyone has heard of a story about someone walking into their apartment and realizing they’ve been robbed. But have you ever heard of a story where they stole the bed, the curtains and everything in between? Well that’s what Upper East Side resident, Nilay Shroff, is claiming he experienced in October 2013, when he found his apartment stripped of almost everything in an apparent “mistaken robbery.”

Mr. Shroff, a 27-year-old software maker alleged that late one night in October 2013, he entered his Yorkville apartment to find the shock of a life time; almost everything was gone. Once police arrived, Shroff and the officers became suspicious of the incident since the apartment burglary did not fit the details of a usual occurrence in multiple ways. Continue reading “New York City Tenant Sues Landlord for Negligence”