The husband of the city consumer affairs commissioner and his real estate partners improperly tried to force tenants out of an Upper East Side apartment building to make way for condos, according to state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.
A real estate company co-owned by Bruce Menin, 165 E Residences LLC, delivered termination notices to 82 of 150 tenants at 165 East 66th Street, the New York Daily News reported.
According to Schneiderman, the company also only allowed tenants to stay for an additional six months if they waived legal protections. The building’s owners have filed plans to convert the apartments into condos.
Menin is the husband of Julie Menin, who heads the city’s consumer affairs commission, essentially protecting consumers from scams.
Bruce Menin’s company paid a $1.7 million fine to settle the allegations, but maintained that it did nothing wrong, claiming that it was cheaper to settle the litigation.
“We went to great lengths to ensure that every tenant in our luxury Upper East Side building, with rents up to $25,000 per month, was able to stay until major renovations started – longer than they would otherwise be allowed to by law,” Crescent Heights spokesperson Sadie Simpson said in a statement. “Anyone who wanted to stay even longer was allowed. No one was evicted or bought out. We did everything right here, but rather than continue to spend money on legal counsel, we were happy to make a contribution to continue our long-standing support of affordable housing.”
Under the settlement agreement, the tenants will be offered new leases that extend through June 30, 2016, and will get first dibs on buying their units, Schneiderman said.
“Developers who convert buildings from rental to condominium ownership must respect tenants’ basic legal rights,” the attorney general said in a statement.