Infamous landlord Steve Croman, who spent time in jail for charges including grand larceny, has been hit with yet another lawsuit. This time, a group of Greenwich Village tenants is suing him for deregulating apartments and, consequently, overcharging rent, the Real Deal first reported.
The lawsuit, filed in the State Supreme Court by law firm Newman Ferrara on behalf of tenants at 560-566 Hudson Street against Croman and the entity that owns the building, alleges that Croman illegally deregulated 22 of the building’s 32 units, affecting more than 100 current and former tenants.
According to the lawsuit, Croman, a managing member of 560-566 Hudson LLC, failed to register the building’s regulated apartments with the state while receiving tax abatements under the state’s J-51 program. As a provision of the program, Croman was supposed register the apartments and give tenants rent-stabilized leases and documents with tax credit information.
“Two years have gone by since Croman pled guilty to grand larceny, falsifying business records, and criminal tax fraud, and here he is still defrauding tenants,” Aaron Carr, founder and executive director of Housing Rights Initiative (HRI), said in a statement.
Nearly two months ago, a Manhattan Supreme Court Justice gave another legal complaint against Croman class action status. That lawsuit, again filed by Newman Ferrara and HRI, charges that Croman illegally leased rent-stabilized apartments in a Harlem building, at market rates, while receiving tax benefits from the state.
“While we do not comment on pending litigation, we remain committed to diligently implementing our settlement agreement with the state Attorney General in line with our focus on using best practices to provide quality housing for our residents,” a spokesperson for 9300 Realty, the company Croman owns, said in a statement.
Carr asked for Gov. Andrew Cuomo to conduct an investigation into Croman. “While it is true that [Homes and Community Renewal] played a part in the civil and criminal case against Croman, what is also true is that Croman is still Croman and that our broken enforcement system is still broken,” he said. The complaint is the result of an analysis conducted by HRI and the Village Independent Democrats.
“New York State has zero tolerance for landlords who harass, intimidate or unlawfully overcharge tenants,” a spokesperson for Homes and Community renewal told Curbed in a statement. “It was the hard work of Governor Cuomo’s Tenant Protection Unit that first initiated the investigation and uncovered wrongdoing by this individual, and that made the criminal referral to the Attorney General that led to his indictment and conviction.”
Correction: This piece originally stated that Croman served time in Rikers Island, but although he was sentenced to go there, he served time in Manhattan Detention Complex instead. Curbed regrets the error.