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Attorney General Files Suit After Investigation into Tenant Harassment

In partnership with Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Tenant Protection Unit, a subpoena was issued in 2014 to investigate Marolda Properties and different landlord companies concerning allegations of tenant harassment and business practices.

On November 1, a lawsuit was filed by New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, against landlords and property management companies alleging that they harassed residents in Chinatown and the Lower East Side. The harassed tenants occupied rent regulated apartments. According to Crain’s New York Business, the landlords and management companies wanted these residents out of the building to bring in higher paying tenants to increase profits.

Marolda Properties, a party listed in the complaint, owns and manages upwards of 70 buildings with approximately 1,700 apartments throughout Westchester County and the five boroughs.

According to the complaint, Marolda Properties and landlords of different limited liability companies intimidated residents “by accusing them of not living in their unit.” They threatened the tenants with an eviction proceeding if they did not leave voluntarily. According to Crain’s, the property manager and landlords filed suit in housing court against tenants without any evidence to their claims in many cases.

According to the Attorney General, Marolda, who is a stakeholder in many of the buildings, turned off the gas to some units at a building in the Lower East Side and failed to make basic repairs in an attempt to make the tenants leave. Marolda has not turned the gas back on according to Schneiderman.

One example cited by Crain’s is that when Marolda “ripped out the toilet used by elderly residents in August and never replaced it.” The elderly tenants “had to climb three flights of stairs to use a different restroom.”

Marolda Properties has not yet commented on the allegations.

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

Operation Cocoon

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Customs and Border Protection Agency are working together to combat a new trend of drug traffickers who fool seniors into becoming international drug mules.  Traffickers either forge a relationship with seniors or promise inheritance or other monetary incentives.  In targeting the elderly, traffickers hope that the drugs pass through security undetected.  This scheme has worked to some degree because eighty-three U.S. citizens who fell victim to drug trafficking tricks have been arrested in foreign countries since 2013.

Operation Cocoon, an initiative to identify seniors before leaving the U.S. as drug mules,  has been successful in preventing some seniors from boarding international flights and facing jail time in a foreign country.  According to the New York Times, approximately 272 kilograms of methamphetamine, 209 kilograms of cocaine, 4 kilograms of ecstasy, and 11 kilograms of heroin have been confiscated under Operation Cocoon.

Some seniors, though, have not been so lucky.  One such man, J. Bryon Martin, is now serving a six-year jail term abroad for smuggling almost 2 kilograms of cocaine.  Mr. Martin, a seventy-seven-year-old retired pastor from Maine, met an individual he knew as “Joy,” who eventually asked for his help in transporting what he thought were real estate papers.  Mr. Martin trusted “Joy” because they had an online relationship for about five years before she asked him to travel to Peru and then onto London.  During Mr. Martin’s layover in Spain, authorities opened up the packages thought to contain paperwork, and found the drugs.

Operation Cocoon has helped prevent many seniors from traveling abroad as drug mules, but there is still progress that needs to be made.  One challenge for authorities is the fact that drug traffickers are not typically located within U.S. borders.  Traffickers are also savvy and seem to know ways in avoiding detection.

The initiative must start at home: caring for our elderly and choosing the best care specialists is essential in preventing our older loved ones from being victimized.  The Law Offices of Hobson-Williams, P.C., help clients protect their loved ones and are experienced in handling other elder law and guardianship issues. The attorneys at Hobson-Williams, P.C. are available for consultation by calling 866-825-1529.

Nursing Home Chain Settles with New York Attorney General for $600K

Recently, the New York State Office of the Attorney General announced that a New York nursing home chain, Elant, settled with its office for $600,000 stemming from claims that they benefited financially by prolonging residents’ stays longer than necessary.  The nursing home chain admitted that several patients who were meant to be short term were transferred to one of their locations in financial peril.  The transfer was against the wishes and consent of the residents and their families, and was meant to generate income for the location and assist in remedying the financial condition.  Attorney General Schneiderman remarked that his office is dedicated to combating such practices and will “find those who use patients to siphon off critical taxpayer funds.”

The Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit and the New York State Department of Health engaged in a joint investigation that revealed the illegalities occurring.  The agencies discovered that the practice of retaining patients longer than necessary was aimed at patients who were the recipients of Medicare or Medicaid.  The patients were also provided with additional and unnecessary services during the period of delay despite the fact that the patients were seeking to be discharged.

Also resulting from the investigation were the license revocations of two former Chief Executives of the nursing home chain, and two former administrators.  Both former CEOs and an additional administrator voluntarily surrendered their licenses.  Additionally, the Attorney General is overseeing that new practices be put in place at Elant to safeguard the patients’ best interests and prevent the exploitation of vulnerable residents.  The chain is also required to enter into a Corporate Integrity Agreement with the Office of the Medicaid Inspector General.

If you believe that your loved one has been mistreated or been taken advantage of by a nursing home, contact an experienced attorney who has the skill and knowledge to handle such matters.  The Law Offices of Tanya Hobson-Williams has handled numerous nursing home claims including those of abuse and neglect.  For more information, call the Law Offices of Tanya Hobson-Williams toll free at (866) 825-1529 or (718) 210-4744.

 

What is a Person Selling their Home Legally Required to Disclose to a Buyer?

Buying a home is the biggest investment many people will ever make.  Finding the right home is a lengthy process requiring a great deal of time and money.  Therefore, it is important to be fully aware of any defects in the property which you are purchasing.

Although New York was historically a “caveat emptor” state (in other words “buyer beware”), legislation has changed over the last decade to provide more protection to consumers.  In New York, sellers are not required to disclose certain facts about a house, such as whether it was the site of a crime or murder, or whether it is believed to have supernatural activity.  However, a seller is required by law to make certain necessary disclosures regarding the condition of the property.  These disclosures include:

  • Whether any part of the property is shared with another;
  • How old the structure is;
  • Whether the property was ever the site of a landfill, wetland, floodplain, or is in an agricultural district;
  • Whether fuel storage tanks have ever leaked on the property;
  • Whether asbestos, lead, or radon is present;
  • Whether the structure has been damaged due to water rot, fire, rodents or insects;
  • Details regarding the sewage system;
  • Whether defects exist to the plumbing, security, fire sprinkler, heating, hot water heater, chimney, or carbon monoxide systems, etc.;

Unless the property is being purchased, it is generally exempt from disclosures.  For example, real estate transfers or gifts are not covered under the N.Y. Real Property Disclosure Act.

If a seller fails to provide a list of disclosures, they are required to provide the buyer with a credit of $500 toward the purchase price upon transferring the property.  In the event that a seller knowingly misrepresents the condition of the property on the disclosure, the buyer is entitled to recover damages suffered due to the misrepresentation.

To view a full list of the legally required disclosures, click here.

If you are purchasing a home, it is best to consult with an experienced real estate attorney who can ensure that your rights are protected throughout the process.  Call the Law Offices of Tanya Hobson-Williams toll free at (866) 825-1529 or (718) 210-4744.

Tanya Hobson-Williams Urges New York City Council to Impose Rent Freeze for More Senior Citizen Tenants

Tanya Hobson Williams, Attorney at LawFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT:
John Zaher (631) 207-1057 ext. 8
Hank Russell (631) 207-1057 ext. 4
PRMG New York

Thursday, April 24, 2014

FLORAL PARK, NY — Attorney Tanya Hobson-Williams of Hobson-Williams, P.C. is asking the New York City Council to pass a bill that would raise the income threshold for senior citizen tenants living in rent-regulated apartments. She says that, under this bill, more seniors would be protected from rent hikes and be able to stay where they are currently living.

On April 10, City Councilwoman Margaret Chin introduced a bill that would update the Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption (SCRIE) Program. Currently, seniors over the age of 62 with an annual income of less than $29,000 who use one-third of their income to pay rent are eligible for a rent freeze. Under Councilwoman Chin’s legislation, the income cap would almost double to $50,000 a year. Continue reading “Tanya Hobson-Williams Urges New York City Council to Impose Rent Freeze for More Senior Citizen Tenants”

The Purpose of a Guardianship and the Mental Hygiene Law: Article 81

Tanya Hobson-WilliamsIf you’re finding it difficult to take care of your personal needs or your property, or maybe you do not really understand the decisions that you have been making, and/or your friends and family are concerned but are unable to provide the help you need, perhaps an appointed Guardian is an option for you or your loved one.

The New York Mental Hygiene Law Article 81 was established to provide a Guardian to handle the personal and property needs of an alleged incapacitated person.  Incapacitated persons are those who are unable to provide for their own personal needs and/or to manage their property.  In addition, an incapacitated person is someone who is unable to comprehend or appreciate the inability to handle such affairs.

You might be asking yourself, “Well, how does someone know they are an incapacitated person?  What are the signs or symptoms so that you or a loved one can be appointed a Guardian?”

A Guardian is rarely appointed to an incapacitated person because he/or she self declares or voluntarily decides to classify themselves as an incapacitate person.  Rather, it is a decision that is given by court order based upon the condition of the individual so that a Guardian can be appointed.  The court’s decision is based upon evidence that is clear and convincing that the individual is likely to suffer from harm because he or she cannot comprehend the consequences of the actions they are taking or cannot provide for themselves adequately.   The Guardian can be someone the incapacitated person recommends or nominates or simply someone the court appoints that can best serve their interests.

Now that you have an appointed Guardian or you’re aware that such an option is available, you’re probably wondering what a Guardian will actually do for me.  The Duties and obligations of the Guardian are created in a particular way so that the needs of the incapacitated person are catered to in regards to personal care and/or the individual’s property management.  There may be a variety of issues that a Guardian may be appointed to help with including financial affairs, physical illness, substance abuse or dependency, personal needs, management of property.  The purpose is to help with the best interest of the incapacitated person in mind.  The Guardian will help make decisions that may be too difficult to make alone, handle medical needs or personal care, and to make sure finances are in order.

The Law Firm of Hobson-Williams, P.C. can assist with all aspects of Guardianships from the application to the court, preparation for the court proceeding and after the Guardian is appointed.

Call our office at (718) 210-4744 now to schedule a consultation!