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Cities vs. slumlords

NYC’s attorney general fines a company for trying to force low-income tenants out so it could flip their units.

When a new company acquired her rent-stabilized Brooklyn apartment, Maria de la Rosa refused a buyout. Then came the leaks and the rats.

According to New York Attorney General Letitia James, it was part of a scheme to oust tenants, flip their apartments, and make bank.

Who’d do such a thing?

Ink Property Group LLC, apparently. It bought up dozens of units, largely in low-income communities of color.

Tenants were illegally offered buyouts to leave. Those who stayed were harassed — against the law in NYC — with some watching as their buildings became uninhabitable through construction or neglect.

Ink also:

  • Lied to banks to get more favorable loans.
  • Averaged ~26 housing violations per building, including having lead-based paint.

And now?

Ink will pay up to $1.75m to an NYC agency that helps create affordable housing and $400k+ in restitution to the tenants. Meanwhile, 28 units will return to permanently affordable housing.

While anti-tenant harassment laws don’t solve the nationwide housing crisis or skyrocketing rent, many municipalities think they can help prevent homelessness.

  • California already has anti-tenant harassment laws, with individual cities adding their own ordinances to further define them.

Case in point: A Santa Monica, California, landlord was recently ordered to pay $65k for illegally harassing and evicting a tenant.

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