Landlords Who Pushed Out Rent-Controlled Tenants Must Pay Toward Low-Income Housing

attorney jeffrey benjaminTwo New York City real estate developers have been ordered to pay $132,000 toward low-income housing efforts after they allegedly harassed tenants of three rent-stabilized buildings in the city’s Bushwick section, according to the New York State Attorney General’s Office. The settlement, which was announced by the attorney general’s office in a Nov. 3, 2017 press release, is the first of its kind after the passage of anti-buyout legislation in 2015. To attorney Jeffrey Benjamin, who is no stranger to consumers’ rights cases across New York City, news of the settlement is encouraging given the number of clients he’s seen struggle through their housing-related cases.

According to the attorney general’s office, the two landlords allegedly tried to convince the rent-controlled tenants to move out of the buildings in Bushwick “in exchange for money. “As authorities put it, this is a “buyout offer” and the two landlords successfully tried this approach with 33 tenants between June 2016 and July 2017. The attorney general’s office adds that the tenants weren’t provided with written notice that further explained their rights regarding this move. To attorney Jeffrey Benjamin, who has previously argued and won a landmark real estate fraud case in court before a jury, the settlement going toward affordable housing is a fair outcome.  Mr. Benjamin notes that one of the more telling sentences in the news release is that the two landlords undertook the “buyout” efforts in a “rapidly changing neighborhood” where “renovated apartments can demand high rents” and as a result are “unaffordable to the majority of long-term Bushwick tenants.” For someone with as much experience as Mr. Benjamin has, it would have been easy to argue in court that this move was nothing more than a money-grab by the two landlords.

Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman says that the agreement shows how dedicated his office is to pursuing tenant rights cases. “Tenants should never feel harassed into vacating their homes,” Schneiderman said in the press release. “This settlement makes clear that we will aggressively enforce the law to protect tenants from those who seek to put profit before New Yorkers’ rights — and we’ll continue to fight for the tougher state laws we need to criminally crack down on tenant harassment.”

The $132,000 in restitution, to be given to the city’s finance department, is the direct result of the Tenant Protection Act of 2017. When it comes to housing issues, Mr. Benjamin can use his years of experience in the consumers’ rights field to get you the results you deserve. That’s because the lease agreement tenants signed is a contract and Mr. Benjamin has argued no shortage of breach of contract cases before and doggedly pursued claims of deceptive practices. For renters in the New York City area who feel as if their landlords are up to no good at their expense, why not contact Mr. Benjamin for advice?

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Jail Term For New York Landlord Sends A Strong Message, Attorney Jeffrey Benjamin Says

attorney Jeffrey BenjaminA New York City landlord will spend one year in jail and has been forced to fork over $5 million in tax settlements after being sentenced on charges of tax fraud, according to the New York State Attorney General’s Office.  In an Oct. 3, 2017 press release, the office states that a year-long investigation allegedly revealed that Steven Croman was purchasing Manhattan buildings with “rent-stabilized units” and would not long after attempt to force out those tenants then try and refinance the mortgage.

The culmination of this case is of interest to New York-based attorney Jeffrey Benjamin, who previously obtained a landmark punitive damage verdict at the end of a real estate fraud trial. Mr. Benjamin, who has decades of experience with real estate and fraud cases, says that it’s rare to see a landlord sentenced to jail time; and New York State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman concurs.

“Steven Croman thought he was above the law. But today, he begins a sentence in Rikers Island for perpetrating an elaborate scheme that was intended to push out rent-stabilized tenants,” Schneiderman said in the press release. “The measures Mr. Croman took to boost his own bottom line – while blatantly disregarding the wellbeing of his tenants – are shocking. A booming real estate market is no excuse for criminal activity aimed at displacing New Yorkers already struggling with high rents,” he continued.

According to the release, Croman pleaded guilty to third-degree grand larceny as well as first-degree falsifying business records and fourth-degree criminal tax fraud. The attorney general’s office adds that the jail term and hefty fine — $3 million of which has already been paid — has been enforced as to “send a strong message to landlords” that real estate and fraud allegations will be thoroughly investigated and prosecuted “to the fullest extent of the law.” The press release goes on to state that Croman was inflating the rent figures and income that he reported as to obtain better refinancing terms. Additionally, he allegedly received some $45 million in loans as a result of his alleged practices, which also included withholding payroll taxes from bonus payments that were being made to one of Croman’s former property managers. That  manager, according to the attorney general’s office, was receiving bonuses for evicting the rent-controlled tenants from Croman’s buildings.

According to attorney Jeffrey  Benjamin, disturbing and unfair real estate cases like this one warrant the thorough investigation and prosecution that was put to use here. Mr. Benjamin, whose knowledge  of the New York Deceptive Practices Act has helped many of his clients in court. He says that those who feel they’ve been wronged shouldn’t hesitate to reach out to a competent and experienced fraud lawyer for guidance and advice.

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$298K Settlement In Car Dealership’s Fraud Shows Importance Of Consumers’ Rights Cases

attorney Jeffrey Benjamin

Described as “bogus” by the New York State Attorney General’s Office, certain practices at a New York car dealership have resulted in a $298,000 settlement to resolve fraud allegations. Specifically, Pana Nissan LLC — which was doing business as Nissan of New Rochelle in the Queens section of New York City – was charging car-buyers for an unwanted and essentially useless “Total Car Protection” anti-theft product. The price of this bogus add-on ranged from a few hundred dollars up to $5,000 and was tacked on after the sale was finalized.

According to the attorney general’s office, the investigation began in August 2015 after a consumer complaint. This fact, says consumers’ rights attorney Jeffrey Benjamin, demonstrates the significance of members of the public coming forward when they suspect wrongdoing is going on unchecked.  Mr. Benjamin has seen what’s to gain by securing  successful verdicts and settlements in court and his hard work on behalf of clients when trying deceptive practice claims has been a point of personal pride for years. Mr. Benjamin’s sentiments on the settlement were confirmed by New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman when the restitution was announced in an August 2017 press release from his office.

“Consumers should not have to worry that they are being scammed into adding on bogus products and services when they purchase a car,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “Buying a car is already a major investment for many families, and tacking on thousands of dollars extra can become a significant financial burden. I am pleased that we are able to return hundreds of thousands of dollars in restitution to the nearly 300 consumers who were scammed and defrauded.”

According to the attorney general’s office, the “Total Loss Protection” guarantee was supposed to be an engraving of the vehicle’s VIN number onto the windows of the vehicle in hopes of deterring theft. However, this etching was either not carried out or done in the style of a sticker in the door jamb, which wouldn’t be immediately visible to would-be thieves. According to attorney Jeffrey Benjamin, who has spent years trying and settling consumers’ rights cases in courts across New York and New Jersey, this is a perfect example of what one whistle-blower can do. Mr. Benjamin advises those in the New York City and Long Island area to contact his practice should they have fraud allegations that  could result in a lawsuit. His firm is accustomed to going up against adversaries with  limitless resources, and they are those cases his firm seeks out and upon which they offer decades of litigation skill and experience.

According to the attorney general’s office, the $276,127 will be refunded to 298 customers who were  duped into paying for the Total Loss Protection. Nissan of New Rochelle was also fined $22,084 and agreed to “reforms” of its sales practices, including full disclosure of all after-sale products.

Real Estate Dispute Between Developer, City Councilman Shows Need For Legal Intervention

In yet another twist within the many turns involving an emerging Philadelphia neighborhood, a well-known city developer is again challenging a Philadelphia councilman over a vacant lot and how its new owners got selected. According to local news website BillyPenn.com, developer Ori Feibush is going after a real estate transaction gone wrong in a recently-filed federal lawsuit. He claims that Councilman Kenyatta Johnson “awarded” the lot — which Feibush had cleaned — to a campaign donor. According to the report, the Philadelphia Land Bank issued a list of request for proposals (RFP) for the development of 10-publicly owned lots; one of which was the vacant one Feibush had taken the initiative to spruce up. The report adds that while Feibush’s application for the 10 properties met the RFP guidelines, Johnson apparently told the Land Bank to extend the application period and one of the councilman’s campaign donors later applied and was awarded the contract.

This isn’t the first time that the two have gone at it either in or outside of court. According to the report, similar claims by Feibush over two other vacant lots went before a jury last year and resulted in a verdict that favored Feibush to the tune of $34,000 in damages. This recently-filed lawsuit by Feibush also names the City of Philadelphia and the Philadelphia Land Bank as defendants. According to lawyer Jeffrey Benjamin, cases such as these show the need for a court to step in when someone alleges corruption by a public official to the detriment of a consumer or business. As a skilled attorney who has obtained favorable verdicts in jury trials over decades, attorney Jeffrey Benjamin knows how to prepare for and present a high-stakes case. His track record includes multiple verdicts for both plaintiffs and defendants in various types of commercial litigation.

Real estate is big business and acquiring properties in up-and-coming neighborhoods is a wise business move if you want to profit later down the road. The problem, as Feibush has seemingly encountered, is that he’s not the only one to hold this belief. While it’s up to a court to determine if this most recent lawsuit can stand on its own, the fact that he’s already been paid out $34,000 in damages from the city shows that his experiences with Philadelphia have so far been less-than-savory.

For those in the New York City or Long Island area with any type of commercial litigation claims, don’t hesitate to contact lawyer Jeffrey Benjamin and learn more about your options in court.

Consumers’ Rights Lawyer Should Hear Evidence In Your Construction Industry Dispute

When it comes to construction, consumers getting what they paid for is crucial. For builders, however, clearly spelling out the work that will be done also holds a considerable amount of weight. That’s why contracts exist and when one party doesn’t own up to the expectations, it’s time for a skilled consumers’ rights attorney to step up. According to “Global Construction Dispute Report 2017: Avoiding the Same Pitfalls,” published by Arcadis Contract Solutions, the average value of a construction dispute was $21 million in 2016. Reaching a settlement also took two months longer in 2016 compared to the year before. The report also revealed that contract errors and omissions were the most common reasons for a dispute.

Attorney Jeffrey Benjamin says compiling a mountain of evidence you’ve gathered in a construction dispute case is necessary before even considering a lawsuit against a contractor.  Mr. Benjamin achieved a favorable verdict out of a case involving two construction contractors. He leveraged years of of experience in numerous construction law cases to win big. A month later, he achieved a $200,000 settlement in a real estate fraud case. Clearly, real estate plays a big role in consumer rights cases that make it to court because it often involves high stakes to the person or company harmed. That’s why lawyer Jeffrey Benjamin suggests seeking out skilled lawyers whose area of expertise is centered around deceptive practices and consumer law when considering a litigation against a contractor.

In its comments on the study, ConstructionDive, an industry trend website, states that construction disputes are unfortunately common. As such, a contract should “clearly spell out” what work is going to be done, and the timeline the contractor is required to keep. The analysis further states the changing industry trends, such as collaboration on construction projects, which likely decrease the number of disputes in the future. The Arcadis Contract Solutions summary further suggests that construction companies “resolve disputes early” as to “preserve productive relationships,” keep teams focused on the project at hand and keep “minor issues” out of court. Mr. Benjamin’s decades of litigation experience is a last resort, and he encourages parties to resolve issues before resorting to long, drawn out, and expensive lawsuits.

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