Court shoots down RSA challenge to state unit that investigated Croman

Landlord group sued to challenge multiple changes to rent stabilization code, including creation of Tenant Protection Unit

TRD New York /
Jun.June 13, 2017 04:00 PM

Joseph Strasburg of the RSA and Gov. Andrew Cuomo (credit: Getty Images)

A state judge dismissed a lawsuit filed three years ago by the Rent Stabilization Association challenging several amendments to the rent stabilization code, including the creation of the special investigative unit that led to the felony charges landlord Steven Croman TRData LogoTINY pleaded guilty to last week.

State Supreme Court Justice Richard Velazquez on Friday handed down his decision, upholding the nearly two dozen code amendments the state division of Homes and Community Renewal passed in 2014.

The RSA and several landlords challenged the rules, which include changes to things like preferential rents and the four-year lookback window DHCR could use when investigating alleged rent overcharges.

One of the more consequential amendments was the creation of the Tenant Protection Unit, which – in addition to probing rent overcharges – investigates claims of tenant harassment and can make criminal referrals.

It was a TPU investigation that led to the criminal fraud charges Croman pleaded guilty to last week. Croman accepted a one-year jail sentence and agreed to pay $5 million in a tax settlement.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who created the TPU, claimed the decision as a victory for renters.

“This ruling upholds the creation of the TPU and additional renter protections advanced by this administration, which is a victory for the more than 2 million rent-regulated tenants across New York. Make no mistake: We will continue to protect tenants and move aggressively against unscrupulous landlords who seek to violate their rights and the law,” Cuomo wrote in a statement.

Attorney Sherwin Belkin, who represented the RSA in its legal challenge, said he was surprised Cuomo limited his remarks to the TPU.

“Certainly, this case goes far beyond the TPU,” he said. “Of course, we’re disappointed with the decision. We believe we raised significant issue of due process and separation of powers . . . and we continue to review the decision.”

Related Articles

Steve Croman and 566 Hudson Street (Credit: Google Maps, iStock)

Steve Croman sued over illegally deregulating apartments

Blackstone CEO Steven Schwartzman and Stuyvesant Town (Credit: Getty Images)

After authorities vowed review of Stuy Town deal, Blackstone changes course on vacancies

Real Capital Analytics data showed that New York’s multifamily market had a very slow July. (Credit: iStock)

New NYC rent law “beginning to shut down investment”

(Credit: iStock)

“Indentured landlord” in rent-reg lawsuit vents at politicians

A&E Real Estate Holdings principal Douglas Eisenberg and the properties along Queens Blvd and 65th Avenue (Credit: The Rego Park 18 Portfolio)

A&E Real Estate buys huge rent-stabilized portfolio at deep discount

The Thurgood Marshall Courthouse in Lower Manhattan (Credit: iStock)

Housing court could get a lot more political under reform plan

Clockwise from left: 5203-5207 Church Avenue in Brooklyn, 119-40 Metropolitan Avenue in Queens, 855 East 217th Street in the Bronx and 31-35 Steinway Street in Queens (Credit: Google Maps)

Going once, Going twice! Rent-stabilized portfolio hits auction block

WeWork employees speak up to management, NY condo buyers can stay anonymous after all

WeWork employees speak up to management, NY condo buyers can stay anonymous after all