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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