The Real Deal New York

Angry tenants can sue Atlas all they want: AG

Landlord attached no-lawsuit rider to Chelsea residents’ leases

February 26, 2016 09:40AM

225 West 23rd Street Eric Schneiderman

225 West 23rd Street in Chelsea and Eric Schneiderman

UPDATED: Feb. 26, 10:54 a.m.: Attorney General Eric Schneiderman shut down what he called Atlas Capital Group’s illegal effort to pressure tenants.

In July, Atlas attached a rider to lease renewal documents it handed out to tenants at 225 West 23rd, demanding they agree not sue the landlord if their property is damaged by construction activity.

“I was horrified. It was like somebody was choking me,” longtime resident Laura Shapiro said. “It was written in a way that they wouldn’t renew the lease if you didn’t sign it.”

The rider “runs afoul of numerous state and local tenant-protection laws,” according to a cease-and-desist letter sent to Atlas by the AG’s Office on Feb. 16, the New York Daily News reported.

An Atlas executive defended the company.

“We look forward to making significant upgrades and improvements to the lobbies and common areas for our tenants,” Atlas Jackie Renton said in a statement, The residents who rent our apartments are important to us, so we chose to be fully transparent about the impending work. We listened carefully to our tenants, and after meeting with them, decided to withdraw the rider going forward.”

Atlas bought 225 West 23rd Street – a pair of buildings totaling 245 apartments in 128,000 square feet of residential space – in August of last year, paying $72.9 million to real estate investor Bernard Kayden. [NYDN]Ariel Stulberg

A statement from Atlas was appended.