Governor Announces $514k Settlement Against Landlord for Overcharging Rent

Governor Kathy Hochul. Image Credit: Office of Governor Kathy Hochul.

On February 14, 2024, New York State Governor Kathy Hochul announced a settlement of $514,000 by New York State Homes and Community Renewal Tenant Protection Unit (TPU) against Manhattan landlord Steven Croman of Centennial Properties for unlawfully defrauding renters. Croman was found guilty of engaging in a scheme to lease regulated units for less than one or two years which in turn made apartments unavailable for New Yorkers in search of safe, stable housing. The settlement includes damages for overcharges to be paid back to tenants.

After receiving complaints in the summer of 2023, the Tenant Protection Unit launched a comprehensive investigation. The complaints alleged that Croman was advertising units on the BlueGround rental platform that described the units as fully furnished for a stay of 30 days or longer at market rate. After their investigation, the Tenant Protection Unit found that listed rent and fees exceeded the legal regulated rent with New York State Homes and Community Renewal. In addition, Croman was committing violations of lease agreements and rent laws concerning security deposits, subletting, and rent registrations.

The settlement agreement details that Croman will pay $514,000 for violating rent laws including leasing rent regulated units for terms of less than one or two years and for overcharging occupants. These occupants span nine rent regulated units in five buildings over the course of approximately eleven months. Croman has already refunded $74,000 to prior occupants.

Governor Hochul said, “With New Yorkers facing the most dire housing shortage in six decades, any attempt to take regulated units off the market is not just unlawful – it’s contributing to our housing crisis. This settlement starts the process of making these Manhattan tenants whole, and I thank the dedicated members of the Tenant Protection Unit for continuing to drive my administration’s effort to support New York renters.”

New York State Homes and Community Renewal Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskas said, “Let this half a million-dollar settlement be a clear and resounding repudiation to owners who seek to game the rent regulation system – that their scheming to cheat the people of New York will cost them dearly. Whatever illegal profit a landlord believes they’ve netted and whatever units they believe they have deregulated, the Tenant Protection Unit is here to ensure that that windfall will be recaptured, potentially trebled, and carry punitive damages on top of those penalties. The Governor and HCR are committed to enforcing the laws governing rent regulation, and we will continue to protect New Yorkers and New York’s rent regulated housing stock. Since the creation of the State’s TPU, the unit’s audit, investigative, and enforcement activities have proactively recovered approximately $8 million in rent overcharges.”

By: Meg Beauregard (Meg is the CityLaw intern, and a New York Law School student, Class of 2024).

New York State Governor Kathy Hochul: “Governor Hochul Announces $514,000 Settlement Against Manhattan Landlord Who Overcharged Tenants and Violated Rent Laws” (Feb. 14, 2024).



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