Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced yesterday (Tuesday) that his newly-formed Tenant Protection Unit (TPU) had served a subpoena on Castellan Real Estate Partners/Liberty Place Property Management.
The subpoena surrounds allegations that the owner and manager of some 1,700 apartments in Harlem, the Bronx and Washington Heights intimidated Spanish immigrant tenants in buildings it bought last year.
“Landlords who harass tenants and engage in prejudiced bullying will not get away with it in this state, period,” Governor Cuomo said. “We created the Tenant Protection Unit for exactly this purpose: to stand up for renters who are being taken advantage of by bad landlords.
“This investigation sends a clear message to any owner who tries to profit by preying on those who do not speak English or push tenants out of their homes with threats.”
The investigation was launched following allegations that Castellan told the mostly Mexican and Ecuadorian tenants they’d have to leave their homes unless the showed proof of citizenship and pay stubs.
Tenants also detailed being pressured to accept inadequate buyouts to leave their rent-regulated homes and waive their rights through an English-only settlement document — given to tenants who cannot read English.
In addition to requesting the relevant rental documents, the subpoena also requests information on the landlords’ business and investment practices based on their reported promises to investors of 15% profit returns through the purchase of rent-regulated buildings that they had described to investors as having been previously “mismanaged.”
However, Liberty Place Property Management told Real Estate Weekly that despite the allegations, results of an investigation would exonerate them.
“We were totally blind-sided, by the subpoena and received no prior notice,” said Rick Serrapica, the chief operating officer of Liberty Place. “We are going to evaluate it and we will respond, of course. There was absolutely no wrongdoing here what so ever. We are confident that after the review process is completed it will be found that we did nothing wrong.”
John had worked for Landmark Advisors and Solomon Brothers before starting his investment company. Paul was at Redstone Equity Partners from 2004-2006.