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UWS Landlord Owes City $500K For Bad Deal With Rent-Protected Tenants

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Developer and landlord of Mirabeau settles with New York for illegal buy-out of two rent-stabilized units

Shady landlords will be shady: The Manhattan landlord and developer of a building at 165 West 91st Street will pay the city a $500,000 settlement for illegally buying out two of its elderly tenants in rent-stabilized units, and later trying to conceal the fraudulent transaction, reports DNAinfo.

Here's the backstory: The developer was approached in 2012 by the two tenants, who wanted to be bought out of their rent-stabilized apartments; the units were prematurely purchased in December 2012 for $200,000 and $155,000, despite New York state law stating that plans for the building’s renovation had to be approved by the Attorney General before the transaction could occur.

The developer then made a failed attempt to cover up the illegal buy-outs by claiming that the tenants were not paying their rent, thereby causing them to settle and purchase the apartments. This was discovered during an investigation of unrelated complaints in the building. Attorney General Eric Schneiderman stated, "With many struggling to find affordable housing, my office will not tolerate real estate developers who circumvent laws designed to protect rent-stabilized units."

While no charges will fall upon the developer/landlord, they will pay a settlement of $490,000—which feels a bit like a slap on the wrist—and an additional $50,000 for investigation costs.