November 17, 2015
By Tara Jessup
New York NY – Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman has announced a settlement resolving allegations of exploitation of the rent stabilization laws. Under the settlement, all tenants residing in this building located in Washington Heights will be entitled to rent-stabilized leases at affordable rents.Additionally, the developer must provide tenants the opportunity to purchase their apartment at a 25% discount from market prices with down payment assistance.
“This settlement is yet another example of my office fighting to protect tenants being improperly deprived of affordable housing.” Attorney General Schneiderman said. “This settlement not only provides rent stabilization protections to the tenants in this building, but promotes homeownership. My office is not afraid to use all of the legal tools available to ensure that New York tenants and homeowners alike are protected.”This building in Washington Heights converted to a housing cooperative in 1987.
Prior to the conversion, all tenants in the building enjoyed rent stabilization or rent control protections. Soon after the conversion, however, the original developer began renting out all of the apartments at market rate. In January 2014, he immediately attempted to raise rents substantially on expiring leases. In January of 2015, the Attorney General filed legal papers seeking to dissolve the corporation after receiving complaints from long-time tenants who were facing massive rent hikes. The Attorney General sought a temporary restraining order barring Fort George Property, LLC, Fort George Realty, LLC, and NY Tryon Realty LLC from evicting tenants or bringing eviction proceedings against any tenant for failure to pay any rent increases.
Marta Bido, a long-term tenant of 121 Fort George Avenue, said, “After many years of dealing in a legal limbo concerning rent rates for our apartments, the Attorney General’s actions bring much relief and peace of mind to all tenants of this building and to working families all across our city. It also assures us that the law protects everyone, not just the few.” The settlement reached protects tenants by returning all apartments to rent stabilization while providing an avenue for homeownership opportunities into the future. All apartments will be subject to rent stabilization protections and the developer must offer a 25% discount to tenants to purchase an apartment. Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer said, “I am thrilled at the results of Attorney General Schneiderman’s lawsuit against the bogus cooperative at 121-131 Ft. George Avenue.
Real estate and housing are complicated, cutthroat, big-money business in New York. When our laws are misused to deprive tenants of their rights, and to improperly remove apartments from rent regulation, we need the determined and creative legal work of officials like Attorney General Schneiderman to set things right.”