Last week, a Supreme Court Justice granted class action status to more than 100 tenants who are suing their landlord, the notorious Steve Croman, for illegally deregulating dozens of residential units in an East Harlem building.
Filed by Newman Ferrara LLP, the suit alleges that 70 percent of the apartments, or 56 units, on E. 100 Street, were illegally leased as “free market.” Croman, who was released from Rikers in June 2018, after spending nearly eight months imprisoned for grand larceny and fraud, failed to register the apartments with the state, all while collecting J-51 tax benefits.
Under the J-51 Program’s rules, Croman had to register all 92 units in the building as rent-stabilized in order to receive those tax benefits. But, allegedly, failed to do so.
The class certification is warranted because all the tenants “share a common goal in ensuring they are charged the legal maximum rent,” Judge Perry wrote in court documents.
In addition to stabilized leases, the tenants could eventually secure rent refunds in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.