BK landlords agree to pay $132K for breaking tenant buyout rules

City law requires tenants to be notified of their rights

TRD New York /
Nov.November 03, 2017 03:30 PM

Gregory and Graham Jones and 1075 Greene Avenue (Credit: Google Maps)

Two Brooklyn landlords must pay $132,000 for buying tenants out of their rent-stabilized apartments without notifying them of their legal rights.

Brothers Graham and Greg Jones, who run the multifamily real estate firm GRJ, were accused of violating the city’s tenant harassment law, which requires the landlords to provide written notices to tenants spelling out their rights, including that they can refuse buyout offers. According to state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, 33 tenants in three rent-stabilized buildings in Bushwick — 946 Bushwick Avenue, 1075 Greene Avenue and 920 Bushwick Avenue — accepted buyouts between June 2016 and July 2017.

“Tenants should never feel harassed into vacating their homes,” Schneiderman said in a statement. “This settlement makes clear that we will aggressively enforce the law to protect tenants from those who seek to put profit before New Yorkers’ rights — and we’ll continue to fight for the tougher state laws we need to criminally crack down on tenant harassment.”

Stephen Meister, an attorney for the landlords, said his clients didn’t realize that they were required to notify tenants in writing. He said that the settlement was an assurance of discontinuance — meaning that the Jones brothers will abide by the city’s notification requirements the next time they try to buy tenants out. He noted that the tenants all “willingly and happily accepted cash buyouts.”

“What any normal human being would call harassment did not occur,” he said. “No monkey business with heating or hot water. None of that.”

The city changed the housing maintenance code’s definition of harassment in 2015 to include making a buyout offer without notifying the tenant of their right to stay in their apartment. The settlement money from the GRJ case will be used to fund affordable housing in the city.

Tenants in the buildings filed several related lawsuits against the brothers earlier this year, alleging that they were threatening residents. Meister said 37 actions were initiated by Brooklyn Legal Services Corp. A against his clients and accuses the firm of convincing tenants to join the lawsuits under false pretenses. He indicated that the Joneses might pursue litigation against the firm.

Representatives for Brooklyn Legal Services Corp. A couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.


Related Articles

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

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

After authorities vowed review of Stuy Town deal, Blackstone changes course on vacancies
Tete-à-tete with TRD: How landlords are dealing with New York’s new rent laws

Tete-à-tete with TRD: How landlords are dealing with New York’s new rent laws

Tete-à-tete with TRD: How landlords are dealing with New York’s new rent laws
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”

New NYC rent law “beginning to shut down investment”
Existing home sales rose again in September as listed inventory sunk to a new low. (iStock)

Existing homes sales remain high, but inventory is “historically low”

Existing homes sales remain high, but inventory is “historically low”
 Jennifer Lawrence and 17 Jane Street with Edward Minskoff (Getty; Sciame Construction)

Jennifer Lawrence buys at Ed Minskoff’s West Village condo

Jennifer Lawrence buys at Ed Minskoff’s West Village condo
Gov. Andrew Cuomo (Getty; iStock)

New York City lifts lockdown for some Covid hot spots

New York City lifts lockdown for some Covid hot spots
217 West 57th Street with Extell Developement's Gary Barnett and Corcoran's Pamela Liebman (Photos via Extell; Barnett via Anuja Shakya)

Extell brings on Corcoran Sunshine to help market Central Park Tower

Extell brings on Corcoran Sunshine to help market Central Park Tower
660 Madison Avenue (Photo via Jenel Real Estate)

Safra family finally begins 660 Madison’s office-to-resi conversion

Safra family finally begins 660 Madison’s office-to-resi conversion
arrow_forward_ios

The Deal's newsletters give you the latest scoops, fresh headlines, marketing data, and things to know within the industry.

Loading...