In the News

 
 
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Fall Behind on These Loans? You Might Get a Visit From Gino

December 20, 2018

The unregulated cash-advance industry is reviving collection tactics of a bygone era. One afternoon in February, a tanned man in a dark suit strolled into a Los Angeles office without an appointment . . .

 
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Affiliate of Kaled Management agrees to pay tenants of J-51 building $850K

December 5, 2018

An investigation by the housing watchdog group, Housing Rights Initiative, has led to two more class-action lawsuits over landlords allegedly abusing the J-51 tax abatement program . . .

 
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Business-Loan Kingpin

December 3, 2018

A drug smuggler built a predatory lending company while free on bail. Now the complaints are piling up. Most people lie low when they’re out on bail. Not former marijuana trafficker Jonathan Braun. In the seven years that he’s been awaiting sentencing, Braun has become a major player in the lucrative field of small-business lending. From an office in Manhattan, he advances money to truckers and contractors across the country at interest rates that would exceed 400 percent . . .

 
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Rubber-Stamp Justice

November 29, 2018

Predatory lenders have co-opted New York’s court system to put the screws to borrowers nationwide. Before the predatory lenders descended, days would come and go with no new court cases filed at the county office building in sleepy Canandaigua, New York, population 10,289. Ontario County Clerk Matthew Hoose and his staff had plenty of other things to do . . .

 
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The $1.7 Million Man

November 27, 2018

Meet New York City’s highest-earning official. He’s a debt collector for predatory lenders. In the 1960s, New York’s loan sharks would send thugs with nicknames like “Jimmy Dimps” to beat up borrowers who fell behind on their payments. Now predatory lenders have a quieter way of collecting debts . . .

 
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“I Hereby Confess Judgment”

November 20, 2018

How an obscure legal document turned New York’s court system into a debt-collection machine that’s chewing up small businesses across America. Look out, the stranger on the phone warned. They’re coming for you. The caller had Janelle Duncan’s attention. Perpetually peppy at 53, with sparkly jewelry and a glittery manicure, Duncan was running a struggling Florida real estate agency with her husband . . .

 
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Two more class-action lawsuits target NYC landlords abusing J-51 tax program

October 1, 2018

An investigation by the housing watchdog group, Housing Rights Initiative, has led to two more class-action lawsuits over landlords allegedly abusing the J-51 tax abatement program . . .

 
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Housing Legal Clinic

September 4, 2018

Get help navigating the housing court process, responding to notices, dealing with threat of eviction, getting repairs from negligent landlords, and advocating for your rights as a tenant in New York City . . .

 
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Cuomo Lets Scofflaw Landlords Make Good — by Raising Rents

August 23, 2018

Mark Scharfman may not be the most infamous of New York landlords — at least not on the scale of a Croman, Walentas, or Kushner — but he’s still managed to attract a bit of notoriety in his decades-long real estate career . . .

 
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Court shift gives landlords leg up in deregulation rent disputes

August 15, 2018

As rent deregulation disputes continue to pile up in state court, many of these cases are being bounced from Supreme Court to the state’s housing agency. Since late last year, Supreme Court judges have referred at least a dozen rent overcharge cases to the state’s Division of Housing and Community Renewal, a shift that appears to have tilted these matters in the favor of landlords . . .

 
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State wrongly hid identities of landlords accused of cheating rent-stabilization rules: tenant advocates

May 22, 2018

Tenants are calling on the state to unveil the identities of various landlords accused of unlawfully deregulating rent-stabilized apartments. A petition filed this month claims the New York State Division of Homes and Community Renewal is wrongly hiding the identities of landlords who allegedly deregulated rent-stabilized apartments . . .

 
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Housing Group Sues for Information on Landlords Skirting the Law

May 22, 2018

A New York City law firm and a housing group have sued to get the state housing agency to release the names of buildings owners who violated the rules of a property tax break program.  The law firm, Grimble & LoGuidice, used the states Freedom of Information Law to request the information back in February . .

 
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DHCR hid identities of landlords suspected of wrongdoing, court papers say

May 21, 2018

A state agency dedicated to protecting affordable housing is wrongly shielding the identities of landlords accused of illegally deregulating rent-stabilized apartments, court papers claim. Lawyers Robert Grimble and Shaina Weissman, who've represented tenants in rent disputes, filed a petition . . .

 
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Tenants file suit saying developer illegally pushed them out of rent stabilized homes

March 27, 2018

A Manhattan-based property manager illegally deregulated hundreds of rent-stabilized apartments in Queens, while receiving a tax break that mandates the homes be leased for less than market rate, according to a class-action lawsuit being filed today . . .


 
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East Harlem landlords skirted rent stabilization rules, lawsuits claim

March 8, 2018

The nonprofit Housing Rights Initiative and its law firm partners are slated to file four class action lawsuits Thursday alleging East Harlem landlords have benefited from a tax break without abiding by rent rules tied to the incentive . . .

 
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Charlie Bird Restaurateur Reaches Agreement With New Neighbors

June 22, 2015

A hip young chef has assuaged the fears of Kenmare Street residents concerned about a new restaurant he has planned for their street — by promising to maintain their peace and quiet with earlier closing times . . .


 
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Tenant Empowerment Program launched to provide West Harlem residents access to legal advice

March 10, 2015

Tenant organizers in West Harlem launched the Tenant Empowerment Program, which aims to connect tenants with legal services and create and strengthen tenant associations in the neighborhood, last Saturday in order to help residents navigate through misinformation and a lack of awareness in the landlord-tenant relationship . . .

 
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Ziel Feldman’s HFZ in contract to buy Extell’s Belnord: sources

December 5, 2014

Gary Barnett’s Extell Development is in contract to sell the Belnord, a storied, block-long rental building on the Upper West Side, The Real Deal has learned. Sources said the buyer is Ziel Feldman’s HFZ Capital Group, which has made several big bets on rental product in the neighborhood. Feldman also was one of Barnett’s investors when Barnett bought the Belnord in 1994 for the bargain price of $15 million . . .

 
 

More Croman troubles as tenants claim harassment by ex-cop

August 8, 2014

Millionaire landlord Steven Croman, under investigation from state regulators for alleged tenant harassment, is facing new allegations that he refused to renew leases at a Lower East Side building that is under a partial vacate order . . .

 
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Fighting The Landlord

August 4, 2014

East Village The lawsuit reads like a legendary New York housing horror story. In the Supreme Court filing from Aug. 6, there's the building's infestation of rodents and vermin, the perpetually unlocked front door, and the drug addicts who routinely roam the halls, according to the complaint . . .

 
 

Appeals court voids Extell’s Belnord tenant deal

November 22, 2013

A New York State appeals court has thrown out an unorthodox lease agreement between Extell Development and dozens of tenants at the Belnord on the Upper West Side, finding that the landlord could not write its own rules on rent stabilization, even with the tenants’ consent . . .

 
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A Landmark Building With a Fraught History

October 21, 2013

The Belnord is a powerfully built limestone rental building that occupies an entire city block on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. Many windows are the width of a grown woman’s wingspan. The outer walls, as if built for a fortress, are nearly a foot thick. And the building has a 22,000-square-foot interior courtyard sprouting with well-manicured trees. Some of its apartments ask for $35,000, even $45,000, a month . . .

 
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Developer, Battling Tenants, Offers New Amenity

July 31, 2008

A condominium conversion in Midtown that is embroiled in a legal fight with tenants is banking on a luxurious new amenity to help attract wealthy buyers. The developer of Sheffield57, Kent Swig, is battling a request from the building's rent-stabilized tenants for a city administrator to take control of the property, at 322 W. 57th St. The 47 tenants are accusing Mr. Swig of trying to force them to leave by failing to address collapsed ceilings, flooding, and asbestos contamination . . .

 

A Few of Our Cases

 

Missionary Sisters, Inc. v. Vivien Faurebach Civil Court New York County, Index No. 50074/2014. 

In this holdover based upon non-primary residency, an elderly tenant who spent time obtaining medical treatment in Saratoga Springs, provided discovery documents to the Owner’s attorney while she was pro se.  After retaining Grimble & LoGuidice, LLC, the court, by the Honorable Cheryl J. Gonzales, JHC, issued an order finding that the attorney for the Owner had “engaged in improper discovery,” and the Court denied the Owner’s request for further discovery and ordered that, “… the firm of Kucker & Bruh, LLP is disqualified from representing the Petitioner in this proceeding.”

 

1549 LLC v. Erick Mendoza, Civil Court, Kings County, Index No. 012472/14 (July 7, 2014).

In a superintendent holdover where the superintendent claimed age discrimination and Labor Law violations, the superintendent was granted a stay of the proceeding pending the determination of his Human Rights and Labor Law complaints.  The Court by the Honorable Steven Weissman, JHC, found that the Owner, an LLC entity, could not separate itself from the management company, Chestnut Holdings of New York Inc., as to its defense that it had less than four employees and was thus exempt from an age discrimination complaint.  “…it is the belief of this Court that petitioner cannot separate itself from Chestnut Holdings of New York, Inv., …and it is clear that Chestnut Holdings has well more than four employees.  The court further denied the Owner’s application for use and occupancy as having no basis.

 

Extell Belnord LLC v Uppman, 113 A.D.3d 1 (AD1, 2013)

A successor tenant challenged an unorthodox agreement whereby in 2006, Extell and the Tenants Association, the Belnord Conservancy, agreed to waive the rent regulated tenants’ rights to the protections of the rent regulatory statutes.  A unanimous decision by the Appellate Division, First Department, reversed the decision of a Supreme Court and determined that “…public policy in the realm of rent regulation is strong and clear.  Parties simply may not agree to ignore the rent laws, even for the most noble of purposes.”  The Agreement was determined to be void ab initio.

Read more: http://therealdeal.com/blog/2013/11/22/appeals-court-voids-extells-belnord-tenant-deal/

http://www.newyorklawjournal.com/id=1202629040720/EXTELL-BELNORD-LLC-plfres-v-JEAN-SEWARD-UPPMAN-def-JONATHAN-VINCENT-defap?slreturn=20150306100717

 

Schanzer v. Vendome, 7 Misc 3d 1018A (2005)  

In this Civil Court proceeding, an order issued allowing the tenant to bring the Department of Buildings into an HP proceeding to have serious DOB violations corrected.

 

42-44 West 74th Street, LLC v. Savior. NewYork Law Journal 9/29/05

Succeeded in having the landlord’s law firm disqualified because they had represented the tenant in another matter, creating a conflict of interest.

 

Riverton v. Knibb, 2005 NYSlipOp 25552 (2005)

This decision is available online (http://www.courts.state.ny.us/Reporter/3dseries/2005/2005_25552.htm), and is notable in that it reversed a controversial decision that was the subject of a front page article in the New York Law Journal. The tenant asserted succession rights, claiming that she was living in the apartment with her grandmother at the time of her death.  The landlord opposed the succession rights because the tenant had signed her deceased grandmother’s name on a renewal lease.  The trial court agreed with the landlord.  When the tenant came to our firm, we obtained a reversal in the Appellate Term.

 

Cassorla v. Foster, 2 Misc. 3d 65 (2004)

After winning a long trial where the architect landlord claimed that his building was exempt from rent stabilization because of a “substantial rehabilitation,” we prevailed against the landlord’s appeal.

 

318 East 93, LLC v. Ward, 276 AD2d 277 (2000)

Successfully defended, in Civil Court and in two appeals, a senior citizen from eviction based upon the claim that her apartment was so cluttered that she could not possibly live there.

 

Grassini v. Paravalos, 270 AD2d 52 (2000)

Successfully asserted, in Supreme Court and on appeal, a tenant’s claim to rent stabilized status after the tenant was displaced due to a fire.

 

Stowe v. 19 East 88th Street, Inc., 257 AD2d 355 (1999)

Prevailed against a cooperative corporation that was refusing to permit the transfer of an apartment to the next of kin of a deceased shareholder.

 

77 Avenue D Associates, Inc. v. DHCR, 249 AD2d 113 (1998)

In this Article 78 proceeding brought by a landlord, we successfully intervened on behalf of the tenants to have a rent overcharge award by the DHCR upheld.

 

Hudson v. Benoit, 226 AD2d 196 (1996)

Defended an appeal by a landlord after having the landlord’s eviction case thrown out of the Civil Court.

 

227 East 57th Street Associates v. DHCR and Beardsall, 214 AD2d 327 (1995)

Successfully intervened in an Article 78 proceeding upholding a rent reduction for a tenant, and defended the landlord’s appeal.

 

Lipkis v. Gilmour, 160 Misc 2d 50 (1994)

After the landlord of a loft building brought a non-payment eviction case, the tenant raised a defense that the landlord had not complied with the loft law.  That defense was stricken by the Civil Court, but was reversed by the Appellate Term.

 

Various Tenants of 446-448 West 167th Street v. NYC Department of HPD, 153 Misc 2d 221 (1992)  

In a case brought by tenants in a city owned building against the City of New York to obtain repairs, the City was held in contempt of court for failing to comply with a court order requiring those repairs to be done.  The City appealed, but lost in the Appellate Term, and the tenants were permitted to go ahead on their claims for damages and legal fees.

 

Artis v. City of New York, 133 Misc 2d 629 (1986)

Tenants were successful in having a 7A administrator appointed to run a building that had been mismanaged by the City of New York.

 

Kace Realty Co. v. Levy, 130 Misc. 2d 858 (1986)

Successfully defended a non-primary residence case in the Civil Court and on appeal based upon the landlord’s non compliance with the Rent Stabilization Law.

 

Toribio v. Whiz Realty Corp. 131 Misc 2d 227 (1986)

After the tenants of a run down building were successful in having a 7A administrator appointed to run the building, a new owner purchased it.  That new owner sought to take the building back from the tenants, but was barred from doing so based upon Bob’s demonstration that the new landlord could not show financial ability nor a detailed plan to put the building back into proper repair.

 

Melevoi v. Yang, 120 Misc 2d 982 (1983)  

Succeeded in having non-payment cases against a group of tenants dismissed because of the landlord’s failure to comply with the rent regulatory laws.

 
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