EAST HARLEM, NY — Notorious landlord Steve Croman is being accused
of illegally deregulating more than 50 rent-stabilized apartments in an
East Harlem residential building, according to a lawsuit filed with the
New York State supreme court.
The lawsuit claims that only 36 of 92 apartment units at 326-340 E. 100th
St., located between First and Second avenues, were rent stabilized as
of June 2015 property tax filings. Croman benefited from a J-51 tax exemption
at the building, which requires landlords to keep 100 percent of the units
in a building rent-stabilized, the lawsuit filed by the firm Newman Ferrara claims.
Croman received J-51 tax breaks on the properties up to June 30, 2016 according
to the lawsuit. When new tenants moved into the buildings, Croman would
not provide them with a rent-stabilized lease and would not provide them
a legally required J-51 rider, the lawsuit claims.
The lawsuit was a result of an investigation conducted by the Housing Rights
Initiative, a nonprofit organization, according to a press release from
the group. In addition to the lawsuit, the Housing Rights Initiative is
calling on New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the state Division of Housing
and Community Renewal to conduct an audit on Croman's entire real
"None of the class actions that we have orchestrated to date provide
a clearer picture of just how broken the state housing enforcement agency
is than today's class action," HRI founder and exective director
Aaron Carr said in a statement. "Croman is a convicted criminal.
He defrauded the banks, he cheated on his taxes, he systematically harassed
tenants, and he disregarded the law with reckless abandon. If Croman doesn't
meet the criteria to warrant a portfolio-wide audit then who does?"
Croman was convicted of an illegal refinancing scheme related to his real
estate holdings in 2017. He was sentenced to serve a year on Rikers Island
and pay $5 million in restitution. Croman was also ordered to make an
$8 million payout in a civil suit brought against him by the state for tenant harassment.
"We have not seen a copy of the lawsuit; however, we disagree with
the allegations," a spokeswoman for Croman
told the New York Daily News.
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