Despite the presence of a state-ordered independent monitor, Castellan Real Estate Partners continues to hike up rents to new tenants by as much as 50 percent, according to an investigation by the New York Daily News.
Governor Andrew Cuomo appointed the monitor last year after a probe by the state’s Tenant Protection Unit found that the hedge fund-backed company had been using intimidation tactics like demanding proof of citizenship from immigrant tenants in order to rapidly empty rent-stabilized buildings in gentrifying neighborhoods. Then, it could implement sharp rent increases, the newspaper said.
One year after Cuomo’s action, Castellan — known for its high rate of evictions — is remains a litigious landlord. Last year, six of the top 12 buildings with Housing Court eviction proceedings were owned by Castellan. The firm’s leadership, brothers John and Paul Salib, recently told investors that they had managed to remove 28 of 30 rent-stabilized tenants from a Harlem building at 148 West 141st Street since purchasing it in 2009.
The landlord has acquired many buildings in gentrifying areas such as Harlem, Washington Heights and the South Bronx.
Last year, the company sued a former executive, claiming he arranged a deal for himself while still employed by them. The parties eventually agreed to settle. Castellan is currently asking $63 million for five of its Harlem holdings.
One of the most active buildings in Manhattan Housing Court is Castellan’s 148 West 141st Street, according to a review by The Real Deal of developers that frequent the court. The owners had six open cases from among 29 apartments. However, five of those were brought against Pathways to Housing, a bankrupt nonprofit originally established to help the homeless. In Castellan’s other five buildings among the top 12, there were 30 Housing Court cases, including eight additional Pathways cases. [NYDN] — Tess Hofmann