By JAIME WILLIAMS
Thousands of tenants from dozens of dilapidated Bronx and other buildings across the city will finally be getting some relief.
Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced a settlement agreement with two owners of 42 rent-regulated buildings in the Bronx, Brooklyn and Manhattan over mismanagement and tenant harassment.
Tenants began filing complaints in November about their management company, Colonial Management, charging it was preventing tenants from holding their association meetings, retaliating against tenants that participated in meetings, and using intimidation tactics to break up meetings.
Investigators from the attorney general’s office found the buildings in question have multiple outstanding housing code violations.
Schneiderman said the settlement with the owners terminates the management company and requires that delayed maintenance projects be completed within the year.
“Over one million families live in rent-regulated housing in New York City. They have a right to decent and safe housing, and a right to organize without being harassed,” said Schneiderman said. “Today’s agreement with the owners will bring significant relief to thousands of tenants who have suffered and puts other owners on notice that my office will not tolerate harassment of tenants.”
The settlement also includes a one-time rent credit of $600 to tenants of each unit to compensate for illegal fees and overcharges, and the owners cannot increase rent to cover the work required to bring the buildings up to code. The investigation into the alleged harassment of tenants is still ongoing.
Jose Maldonado, a tenant who lives at a Bronx building owned by the portfolio, said he was finally relieved to see the management company replaced and dangerous conditions fixed.
“We are grateful to the Attorney General for requiring the owners of these buildings to do the right thing: Follow the law.”
Liza Ash, who lives in a second Bronx building, believes the agreement “sends a message to all landlords who try to intimidate their tenants that someone is going to keep an eye on how they do their business.”
The agreement also drew praise from Bronx City Councilman Ritchie Torres, who called it “a significant victory for tenants, affordable housing advocates, and community leaders.” Torres, chair of the council’s Committee on Public Housing and vocal tenant advocate, said that “ Responsible property owners who respect tenants and support affordable housing are the only kind of property owners who should be operating in our city, period.”