Court Says Renters Can Launch Class-Action Suit Against Criminal Landlord Steve Croman
Tenants who say they were forced out of their rent-stabilized apartments in East Harlem can now sue their former landlord, the infamous Steve Croman.
Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Franc Perry granted class-action status to a lawsuit claiming Croman pushed tenants out of regulated units, the New York Daily News reports.
The suit, initially filed by Housing Rights Initiative, accuses Croman of forcing tenants to pay market rent for stabilized units, failing to provide leases and continuing to score tax benefits even though he had moved units out of regulation.
Perry's decision paves the way for legal action from more than 100 tenants who lived at 326 East 100th St., per the newspaper.
“Class members share a common goal in ensuring they are charged the legal maximum rent," Perry wrote in his decision.
Housing Rights Initiative has also sued Kushner Cos., and has in total lodged 56 lawsuits seeking class-action status. The group says money owed to the affected tenants could run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars and could result in new stabilized leases.
Croman, one of the city’s most notorious landlords, was sentenced to a year in jail in 2017 after being convicted of multiple counts of mortgage fraud and tax evasion. Prosecutors said that over a period of years, Croman ran harassment campaigns at 140 buildings he owned in Manhattan.
Last year, New York state announced it had made an $8M fund available to compensate Croman’s victims. Croman paid into the fund as part of a consent decree.