Ex-Trump nominee broke rent stabilization laws at his Brooklyn Heights building: lawsuit

Tenants at Vincent Viola’s 2 Pierrepont St. were illegally offered market-rate leases instead of rent stabilized leases, complaint alleges

TRD New York /
Jun.June 01, 2020 12:09 PM
2 Pierrepont Street in Brooklyn and Vincent Viola (Google Maps, Getty)

2 Pierrepont Street in Brooklyn and Vincent Viola (Google Maps, Getty)

The owner of the Florida Panthers who was President Trump’s former nominee for Secretary of the Army broke New York’s rent stabilization laws at his Brooklyn Heights building, a lawsuit alleges.

Tenants in Vincent Viola’s building at 2 Pierrepont Street are suing the ownership entity — 2 Pierrepont Street LLC — for providing them with free-market leases instead of rent-stabilized leases when they moved in. Viola, the billionaire founder of Virtu Financial, bought the 12-story, 39-unit rental property from Brooklyn Law School in 2015 for $35 million.

Mid-Hudson Associates sold the building to Brooklyn Law School in 1985 to use as student housing, temporarily exempting it from New York’s rent stabilization laws, according to the complaint filed in New York State Supreme Court. However, once Viola purchased the property and began renting out units in early 2019, this temporary exemption ended, meaning the building’s tenants are entitled to rent-stabilized leases, according to the lawsuit.

The complaint alleges that tenants have been charged for “far in excess of the legal rent,” and a total of nine have signed onto the complaint so far. The suit asks the court to stop the landlord from violating New York’s rent stabilization laws and award financial relief to the tenants.

Lucas Ferrara, a partner at Newman Ferrara and adjunct professor at New York Law School, is representing the tenants.

“As far as we’re concerned, this landlord is skating on thin ice,” he said. “When a temporary exemption ends, a building is required to be returned to rent stabilization. Yet, for some reason, Mr. Viola opted to disregard the law and, in an apparent power play, illegally deregulated the units.”

“We look forward to facing off in court,” he continued, “and are pretty certain that the judge will be sending this particular player to the penalty box.”

Representatives for Viola and 2 Pierrepont couldn’t be immediately reached for comment.

There are currently two active listings at 2 Pierrepont for one-bedroom apartments asking $3,985 and $3,775 per month, and previous units have rented for between $2,675 for a studio and $15,950 for a three-bedroom, according to StreetEasy.


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”
Ohana Real Estate Investors CEO Christopher Smith (left) and Alexico Group's Izak Senbahar with the Mark Hotel at 25 East 77th Street (Getty, LinkedIn, Google Maps)

Judge: Hotel foreclosure sale is off the “Mark”

Judge: Hotel foreclosure sale is off the “Mark”
Toby Moskovits (Sasha Maslov)

“Wasn’t me”: Toby Moskovits disputes $210,000 legal bill

“Wasn’t me”: Toby Moskovits disputes $210,000 legal bill
Every day that the city is shut down, is another day of bills piling up for tenants. (Illustration by Paul Dilakian)

Unpaid bills force NYC restaurateurs and landlords to come to the table

Unpaid bills force NYC restaurateurs and landlords to come to the table
From left: Aaron Feldenauer, 90 Washington Street and Joseph Moinian (Getty, Google Maps)

Mayoral candidate sues Moinian

Mayoral candidate sues Moinian
Joseph Strasburg (Photo by Jeffersons Siegel)

Landlord leader opens up on rent law

Landlord leader opens up on rent law
arrow_forward_ios

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

Loading...