Millionaire landlord Steven Croman, under investigation from state regulators for alleged tenant harassment, is facing new allegations that he refused to renew leases at a Lower East Side building that is under a partial vacate order.
The lawsuit, filed Aug. 6 in Manhattan Supreme Court by tenants at 309 East 8th Street, also alleges that Croman is using former police officer Anthony Falconite to intimidate rent stabilized tenants into leaving the building. Croman bought the 17-unit, six-story property after a foreclosure auction in 2012.
“Since the Cromans have bought the building there has been a concerted effort to remove the rent stabilized tenants from the building,” said attorney Robin LoGuidice, who represents the tenants.
The plaintiffs, Shawn Dahl and James Peterson, claim that the landlord has engaged in a “campaign of harassment, abuse and neglect” since taking over the property in December 2012. PropertyShark records show that the building was acquired for $3.5 million in October 2012.
The suit claims the public areas of the prewar tenement are covered with trash and rodents. Drunks and homeless people have regular access to the building and the front door does not lock, according to the complaint.
The building has falling bricks, exposed electrical cables, extensive flooding and ceiling collapses, according to the suit.
The Department of Buildings issued a partial vacate order in April in connection with renovations at the building, the suit claims.
DOB records obtained by The Real Deal show a partial vacate order on April 9. The order indicates that the building has a “cellar bearing wall crack at various locations,” missing bricks and “bulging and leaning on gas pipes.” A DOB spokesman confirmed that a $1,000 fine is outstanding in relation to the vacate order.
The tenant’s suit claims that Falconite repeatedly approached the tenants, claiming to be either a contractor or a private detective, demanding access to their apartments. The two tenants are not related.
Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is investigating Croman, who owns rental buildings across the city, for an alleged pattern of harassing tenants. The AG issued a cease and desist order against Falconite, who was allegedly used by the landlord to intimidate tenants.
“When we took over the property there were nearly 150 violations associated with prior ownership,” a spokesperson for Croman told TRD. “Since that time we have made significant renovations and improvements, having removed nearly 90 percent of the violations on the first inspection and the remaining violations being removed shortly thereafter. All of these improvements were made without added capital costs to tenants. We are confident that once we have our day in court this matter will be resolved in our favor.”
Falconite did not return calls seeking comment. Officials at the AG’s office did not return calls.