Mark Payne Jan. 16, 2015, 11:25am


New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman sued the owner of a Washington Heights apartment building on Thursday for allegedly operating as a housing cooperative even though units in the building are strictly for rent. 

Ft. George Apt. Corp. and its affiliates advertise the building at 121-131 Ft. George Ave. as a housing coop, which promotes homeownership. Schneiderman's suit alleged that after the company acquired the property it stopped selling shares in the building and eliminated rent stablization for tenants.  It has since acquired all shares in the building and for the last decade has charged tenants the market rate for renting the units.

“Housing cooperatives are meant to promote homeownership, not provide an end-around rent stabilization protections,” Schneiderman said. “Considering the serious affordable housing emergency across New York City, my office is committed to preserving those critical protections for tenants. Being a cooperative is a privilege, not a right; and when a corporation exists solely to deprive its residents of their legal rights, we will act to end such egregious abuses.”

Schneiderman hopes to dissolve the coop and get rate stabilization for tenants.

"Once again, Attorney General Schneiderman is standing up for tenants," Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer said. "121-131 Ft. George Avenue in Washington Heights has exactly the kind of affordable apartments policymakers must try to preserve. I'm proud to have played a role in helping return this 44-unit building to rent-regulated status."

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