Nick Rees Dec. 21, 2009, 9:15pm
Andrew Cuomo (D)
WATERTOWN, N.Y. (Legal Newsline) - An out-of-state landlord has been ordered by Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo to immediately cease harassing and threatening his primarily military tenants over unverified debts.
The cease-and-desist letter was issued to Peter Hoffman, the owner of YNGH LLC. Hoffman deals primarily with military service members and civilians owing to proximity to Fort Drum.
Cuomo's letter, which orders immediate compliance with the New York State fair Debt Collection Practices Act, comes after the attorney general's office learned that tenants' chains of command were regularly contacted by Hoffman to tell them that the renters were in default on their agreements and owed him substantial amounts of money.
Some instances were found by Cuomo's office where these debts were under dispute by tenants, yet Hoffman contacted their chain of command anyway.
Abusive tactics revealed by Cuomo's investigation included requiring soldiers to waive available defenses and counterclaims as well as the addition of unreasonable fees into rent charges.
"Our brave men and women serving in the military should not be distracted or pressured by unscrupulous landlords who don't follow the law,"Cuomo said. "Once my office became aware of a rash of abusive practices regarding leases, we worked with Fort Drum to implement protections for military tenants who find themselves the target of absentee landlords."
Cuomo's office is also coordinating an initiative in conjunction with Fort Drum to protect both military and civilian tenants who work at the base from unscrupulous landlords and unfair leases.
The initiative is planned to increase transparency in landlord-tenant relationships and to reduce predatory leases. Landlords who cater to military tenants, as part of this joint efforts , would be required to file all leases with the Fort drum Housing Office as a precondition to inclusion upon housing lists. Soldiers will also be protected from abusive lease terms by the initiative , which would allow soldiers to compare leases before renting. Inequitable leases will also be screened out from the base's Housing Office as part of the program.