Tenant Protection Unit Set to Investigate East Village Owner
State investigators have launched an investigation into an East Village owner who has been accused of intimidating tenants into vacating their rent-regulated units. The state’s Tenant Protection Unit recently served subpoenas as part of an investigation into claims of tenant harassment.
Tenants at one building in the East Village took the management company and its agents to court earlier this year, claiming that they were trying to drive tenants out of their longtime homes through illegal construction and persistent buyout offers. The owner allegedly refused to make repairs in their apartments and asked tenants to provide documents like passports to prove their legal status while accusing them of illegal activity like prostitution and drug trafficking.
The owner’s agents allegedly also told residents about “looming police and immigration raids, rent hikes and structural problems in an effort to force them to sign agreements surrendering their rights to their apartments” in secret recordings made by tenants.
State investigators were made aware of the situation by the Urban Justice Center, which has been representing the predominantly Spanish-speaking tenants, and the tenant advocacy group Good Old Lower East Side, which also worked with the building’s tenants.