Cuomo suing NYC landlord

Nick Rees Jan. 29, 2010, 4:00pm


NEW YORK (Legal Newsline) - New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo has announced his intent to sue a major New York City landlord that he says harasses tenants in rent-regulated apartments.

Vantage properties has been sent a five-day notice letter by Cuomo, required by state law, notifying the company of his intent to commence litigation against them.

Vantage has purchased more than 125 buildings containing over 9,500 apartments since March 2006. Almost all of the recently purchased buildings, located in Queens, Harlem and Upper Manhattan, are rent-regulated.

In his legal action, it is alleged that Vantage has begun taking action to force long-term, rent-regulated tenants to move out of their homes and imposing significant rent increases on new tenants in a move to increase profits. Vantage has aggressively pressured long-term tenants, it is alleged, by serving baseless legal notices and by commencing frivolous Housing Court eviction proceedings.

"Landlords who illegally harass tenants to boost their bottom line do great harm to the fabric of this City," Cuomo said.

"Their underhanded tactics displace long-time residents from their homes and exacerbate the acute affordable housing shortage. My office is committed to the preservation of affordable housing. We will continue to enforce the laws intended to protect tenants and bring unscrupulous landlords to justice."

Vantage, Cuomo alleges, tries to evict tenants by falsely claiming that they have either failed to pay rent or that their apartment is not their primary residence.

According to Vantage's actual business plans, their strategy to remove tenants from rent-regulated apartments is known as the "Golub program."

The Golub program first sends a notice of intent not to renew a lease combined with a notice to terminate tenancy. Specific targets are made for each building Vantage purchases to determine how many residents must be removed to increase profits.

In its 2008 business plan for a group of residential apartment buildings in the Washington Heights neighborhood of Manhattan, Vantage stated that, "Our goal for fiscal year 2008 is to generate unit turnover through active management of the Golub program and other legal efforts...Our legal efforts are starting to bear fruit and rent prices continue to exceed plan, all contributing to what should be a strong year to come."

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