• Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced a plan to create a strong team to face tenant harrassment and housing enforcement initiatives in the state of New York.
  • The new Real Estate Enforcement Unit in the Criminal Division of the Attorney General's Office will work to investigate real estate-related crimes.
  • The team will also help to address affordable housing issues, abandoned properties and illegal abuse by landlords.
New York AG

Attorney General Schneiderman/www.ag.ny.gov

New Yorkers know all too well about deceptive practices in real estate. Overpriced rent, under-managed properties and tenant harassment are all familiar to residents of the state — but a new task force is aiming to combat these issues.

Within the office of Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, the Real Estate Finance Bureau will tighten up investigations of tenant harrassments and other housing issues common in the state.

Spearheaded by Brent Meltzer, who is the former assistant commissioner at the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development, the bureau will be an added bonus to Gov. Andrew Curomo’s Tenant Protection Unit. Meltzer is expected to move into the role August 1.

Earlier in July, Schneiderman’s office announced the beefed-up squad and the addition of the Real Estate Enforcement Unit, which will specifically investigate bank fraud, deceptive lending, tenant harassment and deed theft complaints. Special counsel John Spagna will lead the new unit within the Criminal Division of the office.

“Affordable housing is a fundamental need that should be accessible to all New Yorkers,” Schneiderman said in a statement. “Unfortunately, unscrupulous landlords and scofflaws in the housing industry take advantage of too many New Yorkers. The new measures being taken today by my office will ensure that we are using every legal tool at our disposal to best protect tenants and homeowners against abuse.”

Another big player in the new enforcement is Dina Levy, the director of community impact, who has been working on housing policy initiatives such as the Homeowner Protection Program (HOPP), which funds more than 85 partners that provide homeowners with free mortgage assistance in the state.

The team will also help to address affordable housing issues, abandoned properties and illegal abuse by landlords, according to Levy.

The announcement follows on the heels of a recent lawsuit accusing a landlord of allegedly obtaining $45 million in fraudulent loans and accumulating more than $1 million in unpaid fines. The landlord, Steven Croman, was on the New York Times’ ‘Worst Landlords’ list and arrested for threatening tenants.

“The Real Estate Enforcement Unit will be a tireless advocate in upholding the law on behalf of ordinary New Yorkers,” Spagna said in the statement. “By investigating fraud, deceptive lending practices and tenant harassment, our office intends to curb this corrosive behavior and all who enable it.”

Email Kimberly Manning

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