Brooklyn Landlord Settles Tenant Harassment Claims
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo recently announced that the state’s Tenant Protection Unit (TPU) has signed an agreement that will end the reported harassment and intimidation of long-term tenants at several rent-regulated buildings in the Brooklyn neighborhoods of Flatbush and Crown Heights. The owner of these buildings had purportedly been engaging in a pattern of abusive behavior and disregarding rent laws.
“Everyone deserves a safe, affordable place to live, and this administration will not tolerate landlords who seek to harass and bully tenants out of their homes,” Cuomo said. “We created the Tenant Protection Unit to make it clear to all landlords that the state would hold them accountable for their actions. This settlement is tough, fair, and should serve as a reminder that our administration is not afraid to stand up for all New Yorkers.”
According to the agreement, the owner will now have to change his policies and procedures so that they are in compliance with the rent laws, and must create a $60,000 fund to compensate mistreated tenants. An independent monitor will also evaluate the owner’s practices over the next three years to ensure that the agreement is being honored, state officials said. The monitor, paid for by the owner and approved by the TPU, will audit all rents set by the owner following a vacancy to ensure that affordable apartments remain in the system where appropriate.
In October 2013, the TPU served the owner with a subpoena demanding documents and records from his buildings following complaints from tenants who said the owner failed to cash rent checks, pressured them to vacate their apartments, and subjected them to frivolous housing court proceedings. The TPU said the owner’s practices mostly affected long-term tenants, most of whom are African-American or Caribbean-American.
The TPU was created by Governor Cuomo in 2012, and in the two years since its inception the agency has recaptured more than 33,000 units that owners had failed to register and restored them to rent regulation.