December 29, 2021
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HPD’s Anti-Harassment Unit secures $214,000 in penalties after coordinated inspections and investigations with the Tenant Harassment Prevention Taskforce
NEW YORK – Today, the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) announced major actions as a result of continued enforcement against landlords Alexander Horn and Sam Kooris, with settlements totaling $214,000. Mr. Horn and Mr. Kooris have been ordered to correct conditions and stop tenant harassment at seven buildings, containing a total 62 homes, in Brooklyn and Queens after the owners initially failed to address conditions pursuant to a court order. These enforcement actions are the outcome of an ongoing investigation led by HPD’s Anti-Harassment Unit (AHU) in partnership with the Tenant Harassment Prevention Taskforce (THPT) which coordinates anti-harassment efforts involving multiple jurisdictions across several government agencies.
In October of 2020, the owners agreed to pay $109,000 in civil penalties, correct the remaining immediately hazardous violations within 30 days and comply with the City’s tenant harassment laws or subject themselves to further civil penalties. However, during follow-up compliance monitoring, HPD found that the owner failed to correct violations they agreed to correct and continued to receive reports of tenant harassment at multiple buildings. In May of 2021, HPD brought new motions in Housing Court for additional civil penalties in 3 of the cases for non-compliance, and a motion for contempt and civil penalties in one of the cases. The owner agreed to pay an additional $105,000 in civil penalties after failing to comply with the original consent orders and agreed to enter new consent orders compelling the owner to repair all violations to date.
“As these latest actions by our Anti-Harassment Unit demonstrate, we will be vigilant to ensure that Consent Orders are complied with by landlords who endanger and harass their tenants,” said HPD Commissioner Louise Carroll. “In partnership with our sister agencies and NYS partners, HPD’s Office of Enforcement and Neighborhood Services will continue to work tirelessly to protect tenants & ensure landlords abide by their responsibilities.”
“We have zero tolerance for landlords who use construction to harass their tenants and put the safety of our fellow New Yorkers at risk,” said Buildings Commissioner Melanie E. La Rocca. “We applaud the hard work of our colleagues at HPD, and are proud of our continued partnership with the Tenant Harassment Prevention Taskforce”
“Congratulations to HPD for this important settlement that has put an end to the harassment of tenants in 62 households,” said New York State Homes and Community Renewal Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskas. “I am proud of the work of the Tenant Protection Unit, as well as the Tenant Harassment Prevention Taskforce, who continue to work to stop landlords who subvert the rights and protections of rent-regulated tenants and engage in tenant harassment. As part of the ongoing coordinated enforcement activities of the Tenant Protection Unit, the state continues to work with NYC’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development and New York City and state regulatory agencies to protect the rights of rent regulated tenants throughout New York.”
The violations were documented at the following addresses in Brooklyn: 829 Halsey Street, 879 Dekalb Avenue 814 Macon Street, 439 Bleecker Street, 419 Marcus Garvey Blvd and 421 Marcus Garvey Blvd. 1868 Putnam Avenue in Queens was also included.
At the time the portfolio was initially referred for litigation in 2020, an investigation spanning several months documented hundreds of violations across the seven buildings. The taskforce uncovered a pattern of substantial building neglect, vacant apartments, unsafe conditions and inadequate heat and hot water among other issues. More than 500 HPD violations were documented and the Department of Buildings issued 18 violations and multiple Stop Work Orders for failure to comply with tenant protections plans, unsafe conditions and other construction violations. Tenant statements added to evidence that the owners failed to make repairs for serious violations including inadequate heat and hot water, missing fire stopping, exposed wiring, water leaks, rodents, and defective or broken workmanship.
If you believe that your building owner is withholding essential services or not making repairs to force you to move out of your apartment, call 311 to report the conditions. In addition, HPD contacts tenants by mail when a landlord indicates that violations have been addressed; if you receive this notice and the violation was not corrected, contact HPD’s borough offices to request a reinspection. Tenants can also initiate an action in Housing Court based on a claim of harassment. You can also call 311 for free legal assistance that is available to low-income tenants who are being harassed by property owners.
Tenants who live in rent-regulated apartments and believe they are being harassed should contact the TPU at TPUinfo@hcr.ny.gov. For more information about the Tenant Protection Unit visit https://hcr.ny.gov/tenant-protection-unit.
HPD’s Anti-Harassment Unit (AHU)
Since HPD established the new Unit in 2019, AHU has initiated litigation against 90 buildings. For cases including harassment claims, AHU attorneys have secured more than $680,000 in civil penalties and over $100,000 in rent credits for tenants. The Unit has obtained 32 court orders to correct violations and end harassment deriving from building conditions for almost 1,000 households.
Tenant Harassment Prevention Taskforce (THPT)
THPT is a collaboration of the HPD’s Anti-Harassment Unit, City’s Departments of Buildings, Health & Mental Hygiene, and Law, along with the Mayor’s Office to Protect Tenants (MOPT) New York State Homes and Community Renewal’s Tenant Protection Unit (TPU) and the Office of NYS Attorney General.
Tenant Protection Unit
The Tenant Protection Unit was created in 2012 as a proactive law enforcement office within New York State Homes and Community Renewal.