Saturday, February 13, 2010

Cuomo settles with Vantage

From the NY Times:

Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo said Thursday that he had reached a $1 million settlement with a large New York City property owner that became a lightning rod for complaints about landlords’ treatment of tenants in rent-regulated apartments.

Under the settlement, the landlord, Vantage Properties, must stop harassing tenants in its 9,500 apartments in Queens and Manhattan with “baseless legal notices” and “frivolous housing court evictions,” according to a statement from Mr. Cuomo.

The attorney general’s office, which started its investigation in the summer of 2008, found that in Vantage’s search for profits, it tried to force tenants out of apartments so it could renovate them and raise rents. Last month Mr. Cuomo said he intended to sue Vantage. The settlement said that over two years Vantage filed more than 1,000 notices against tenants and took a “significant number” to housing court.

Many residents complained that they had been falsely accused of not paying rent or of living elsewhere, Mr. Cuomo said. In many cases, Vantage filed cases based on “unreliable sources of information” when the tenant had every legal right to live there.

Of the $1 million, $750,000 will be paid to residents “who can demonstrate that they unjustly vacated their apartments or were subject to frivolous housing court proceedings,” the settlement says. The rest will be given to nonprofit groups that help tenants. It is unclear how much money individual tenants will receive and which nonprofit groups will benefit from the ruling.

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