- As a result of a TPU investigation and subsequent criminal referral, on April 6, 2017, the NYS Attorney General’s Office and the members of the Tenant Harassment Task Force announced that Dean Galasso, a NYC landlord with multiple properties in Manhattan and Queens, was indicted on six felony charges stemming from an alleged scheme to fraudulently obtain a multi-million-dollar mortgage to finance the purchase of 43 Essex Street in Manhattan.
- In 2016 alone, TPU has successfully recaptured another 8,963 units (totaling over 56,000 units) and returned more than $1.3 million in overcharged rent (totaling $3.25 million) to tenants who did not know they were paying more than required by law.
The enforcement activities of the TPU and the Brooklyn DA’s Office led to guilty pleas for notorious Brooklyn landlords, Joel and Aaron Israel of JBI Management Inc. Joel and Aaron Israel, along with several corporate defendants, pled guilty to first-degree scheme to defraud and multiple counts of unlawful eviction for unlawfully evicting rent stabilized tenants, illegally destroying their apartments and making them uninhabitable as part of a scheme to collect significantly higher market-rate rents.
- In the latest enforcement action under the Real Estate Tax Compliance Program, a joint initiative of the TPU, the Attorney General, and HPD to ensure building owners receiving 421-a benefits are in compliance with the law, HPD issued letters notifying owners of 178 residential buildings – with a total of 1,400 rental apartments – that their 421-a tax benefits will be revoked retroactively, if they do not comply with the requirements of the 421-a program, including registering their apartments as rent-regulated.
- After an investigation initiated by the TPU in 2014, the Governor and the Attorney General announced a lawsuit against Marolda Properties, Inc. and associated landlords for allegedly engaging in deceptive practices and coercion, primarily through filing frivolous lawsuits, as a means to harass Asian-American tenants out of their rent-regulated apartments located in Chinatown and the Lower East Side.
- As a result of a TPU audit of a Downtown Brooklyn building receiving 421-a tax benefits, the building’s owner agreed to refund over $250,000 in rent overcharges to 60 unsuspecting tenants. In addition to crediting the tenants’ rents, the owner was required to amend its registrations on file with DHCR and issue amended leases to its tenants.
- TPU was asked to assist the New York Attorney General (NYAG) in an ongoing investigation of Steve Croman, owner of 140 apartment buildings throughout Manhattan. After reviewing records and interviewing tenants, the TPU made a formal criminal referral to the NYAG. On May 9, 2016, the NYAG announced a 20 count indictment of Croman, which includes charges of Grand Larceny, Criminal Tax Fraud, and Falsifying Business Records, with many of the charges based in part on the buildings' rent rolls provided by TPU.
During the last four years, the TPU has successfully returned 50,000 improperly deregulated apartments in NYC to rent regulation and restored more than $2.25 million in overcharged rent to tenants.
TPU, working with the AG's Office and State Senator Jeffery Klein, negotiates re-stabilization of 82 apartments with Bronx landlord.
- TPU announces an award of over $118,000 to a tenant in White Plains, NY whose landlord claimed a significant rent increase from one year to the next based on an IAI but did not substantiate the work. This included almost $65,000 in assessed treble damages.
- Working with its partners in government, the TPU was able to compel a Bronx landlord to return 82 units to rent regulation and provide rent stabilized leases going forward to affected tenants while addressing their concerns.
In 2015 alone, TPU recaptured another 11,433 apartments, bringing the total units returned to rent stabilization to over 47,000, preserving the affordability of those units.
- TPU launched a major initiative that uncovered the illegal removal of central heating systems in over two dozen rent regulated buildings affecting 145 tenants. Landlords will be ordered to make the necessary steps to rectify their illegal acts, including making a formal application to the ORA, seeking permission to modify their building’s heating/hot water service and implementing a permanent rent reduction for the regulated tenants. Prior to this proactive initiative, the agency would not act on this type of issue without a tenant complaint.
- Three months after the launch of the Real Estate Tax Compliance Program, the TPU, NYS Attorney General and the NYC HPD announced that 111 buildings encompassing over 1,800 units will be registered as rent stabilized with every tenant notified of their rights under the Rent Laws. Going forward, for owners that elected not to participate in the compliance program and are depriving tenants of rent stabilized leases, TPU will begin enforcement actions and the City Department of Housing Preservation & Development will commence proceedings to ensure those remaining landlords comply.
- TPU, the State Attorney General’s Office (AG) and NYC Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) join forces to form a Real Estate Tax Compliance Program targeting 194 buildings that are receiving a partial property tax exemption under 421-a and violating rent registration requirements of the Real Property Tax Law and the Rent Stabilization Law and Code. Working with the AG and HPD, joint letters were sent to owners who are not abiding by rent regulation or co-op-condo laws and failing to register their units – giving them a one-time opportunity to cure the violations without penalty. The program will ensure that these units are properly registered and further protect rent-regulated tenants.
- TPU served a comprehensive subpoena on an East Village landlord who has allegedly engaged in the harassment of Spanish-speaking tenants in order to force them out of their rent-regulated apartments. The subpoena seeks to examine the patterns and practice of the owner, the abusive behavior of his agents, the intimidation of Spanish-speaking tenants and the flagrant violations of the rent laws.
- As a result of TPU’s IAI Initiative, TPU returned $67,000 to dozens of tenants in a Downtown Brooklyn building whose landlord was receiving a 421-a tax abatement. After receiving the TPU’s initial inquiry letter, the landlord admitted to errors in their rent calculations, agreed to reset the tenants’ rents, re-register the units with the DHCR, and provide new leases going forward at the new lower rent amount.
- As a result of a TPU criminal referral to the NYS AG’s office, the Tenant Harassment Prevention Task Force made its first arrest and took swift action to confront the alleged unlawful actions by a Brooklyn landlord. Commissioner James S. Rubin, Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman and Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the indictment of the landlord for allegedly created hazardous building conditions to harass and force our rent regulated tenants in Crown Heights.
- Notorious Brooklyn landlords, Joel and Aaron Israel, who were subpoenaed by TPU in April 2014, are indicted by the Brooklyn DA’s Office for destroying their tenants’ apartments in Bushwick, Greenpoint and Williamsburg and trying to force families out of their homes. TPU’s information about the landlord’s egregious acts and violations of the rent regulations laws helped serve as the basis for the Brooklyn DA’s criminal indictment.
- Based on TPU’s rent registration initiative, TPU has returned 40,000 apartments back to rent stabilization, preserving the affordability of those units.
- Building on TPU’s individual successes, collaborated with various City agencies and the Attorney General to form the Tenant Harassment Prevention Task Force - a joint task force to address the deregulation and destruction of rent-regulated apartments in North Brooklyn and other neighborhoods throughout the City.
- As a result of a TPU audit and investigation, an Upper West Side landlord who was receiving a J-51 tax abatement agrees to complete a review of the rents for his building, a voluntary adjustment of the rents and to provide all tenants with rent stabilized leases going forward.
- In 2014 TPU recaptured another 9,000 apartments totaling over 36,000 apartments (since 2012) that landlords had improperly deregulated, the largest recapture/re-stabilization by any Governor, saving the state over 2 billion dollars in construction and rehabilitation costs.
- The East Village landlord who received an August 2014 TPU “Cease and Desist” letter instructing the building’s tenants to vacate their homes based on demolition without filing the legally required documents rescinded his unlawful letter to his tenants and agreed to a revised schedule to rehab that building that accommodates the tenants needs.
- The East Harlem landlord who received a July 2014 TPU “Cease and Desist” letter for harassing a long-term tenant based on her immigration status acknowledged wrongdoing on the part of an employee, agreed to prevent any further harassment and offered to refund overcharged rent.
- TPU starts new proactive audit initiative on apartments in transforming neighborhoods around New York City.
- Governor Cuomo announces the signing of a settlement agreement with a Crown Heights/Flatbush landlord who was subpoenaed in April 2013 for engaging in a pattern of abusive behavior towards his residents and flagrant violation of rent laws.
- TPU announces the return of over $50,000 to three tenants in the Chinatown/Lower East Side neighborhood of Manhattan whose landlord claimed significant increases in rent from one year to the next based on IAIs but could not substantiate the work.
- The TPU serves a “Cease and Desist” letter on an East Village landlord who sent a letter to his building’s tenants requiring them to vacate their homes based on demolition without filing the legally required documents.
- Governor Cuomo announces subpoena served on a Chinatown landlord allegedly harassing primarily elderly Asian-American tenants.
- TPU investigators, auditors and attorneys have recaptured more than 32,000 units that landlords had failed to register, restoring them to rent regulation, saving the State over a billion dollars in rehabilitation and reconstruction costs.
- The TPU serves a “Cease and Desist” letter on an East Harlem landlord harassing a long-term tenant based on her immigration status.
- TPU initiated audits have resulted in restoring more than $600,000 in overcharges to tenants who did not know they were paying more than required by the Rent Laws.
- TPU assists New York State Homes and Community Renewal Housing Finance Agency in the eligibility determination of potential landlords for entitlement to state loans/grants/tax credits, by investigating and vetting a potential landlord's financial soundness and mortgage holdings for signs of overleveraging within their portfolios or allegations of increased tenant turnover through harassment.
- Governor Cuomo announces subpoena served on Brooklyn landlord alleged to have systematically harassed rent-regulated tenants.
- The TPU has returned over $220,000 to unsuspecting tenants in rent overcharges.
- The TPU has returned more than 28,000 apartments to rent stabilization.
- Governor Cuomo announces unprecedented agreement with Castellan Real Estate Partners/Liberty Place Property Management to end harassment and compensate tenants, including many who are Spanish speaking or immigrant, in 1,800 NYC apartments.
- The TPU attends tenant meeting in Brighton Beach to address allegations of harassment of seniors in large rent regulated building, and ensures that tenants receive renewal leases.
- The TPU returns over $100,000 to unsuspecting tenants in rent overcharges.
- The TPU subpoenas a Brooklyn landlord accused of harassing long-time tenants and illegally raising rents in numerous apartments.
- The TPU returns over 20,000 units to rent regulation based on its rent registration initiative.
- The TPU subpoenas Castellan Real Estate Partners/Liberty Place Property Management in response to allegations of harassment and intimidation of tenants.
- The TPU settles with one of the subpoenaed landlords who agreed to refund an unsuspecting tenant who was being overcharged - the first action of its kind under the model created by Governor Cuomo.
- The TPU launches more than 600 additional IAI audits in response to significant and unexplained rent increases reported by owners.
- The TPU returns over 15,000 units to rent regulation based on its rent registration initiative.
- The TPU issues the agency’s first ever multiple subpoenas to non-compliant owners (achieving 100% compliance).
- The TPU returns over 10,000 units to rent regulation based on its rent registration initiative.
- The TPU expands its investigations with the largest single audit of owners in history of the agency.
- The TPU launches its first historic initiatives involving rent registration and IAIs.
- Governor Cuomo creates the TPU.