On October 12, 2022, the Tenant Harassment Prevention Task Force announced a settlement with landlord Greg Fournier and his real estate company, Greenbrook Holdings, LLC over harassing tenants and keeping unsafe building conditions. The task force is composed of the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD), the Department of Buildings, the Law Department, the State Attorney General, and the Tenant Protection Unit of the New York State Department of Homes and Community Renewal Trust.
Greenbrook Holdings owns 188 buildings with approximately 1,000 units, mostly in Brooklyn. Many of the units were rent-stabilized. Tenants faced dangerous living conditions including illegal construction and frequent interruptions to gas and water service. There were more than 1,200 open HPD violations and 700 Buildings violations across Greenbrook’s buildings. In two different buildings, gas was shut off due to unpermitted work on gas pipes. In another building, unpermitted outdoor work resulted in debris falling into adjacent yards. Greenbrook only had a permit for interior work in that building.
As part of the agreement, Greenbrook will pay HPD $100,000 in fines and credit $7,500 to each current tenant who moved into the ten worst buildings on or before July 1, 2021. Greenbrook will provide a 15 percent rent abatement per day for any tenant who has a disruption in gas, water, heat or electricity going forward.
Greenbrook must hire external monitors to oversee construction and a compliance officer. The compliance officer will conduct unannounced inspections of construction sites, which is a first-of-its-kind stipulation with the City.
In 22 of the most egregiously managed buildings, Greenbrook must correct hundreds of violations within 60 days.
The settlement followed an expanded investigation after HPD received multiple complaints from tenants regarding unsafe conditions, unpermitted construction, warehoused apartments, the lack of regular maintenance, harassment and failure to comply with rent regulations. HPD had initiated litigation against two buildings in December 2020.
HPD Commissioner Adolfo Carrión Jr. stated, “No landlord is above the law, especially when it comes to harassing tenants by subjecting them to dangerous living conditions. Through this settlement, our task force is bringing Greenbrook to justice and putting the tenants on a clear path to better living conditions.”
Attorney General Letitia James stated, “Greenbrook and Mr. Fournier forced tenants to live in unsafe and unacceptable conditions with no regard for anything but their own bottom line. Tenants lived through dangerous construction, went without essential services such as gas and water, and suffered unsanitary conditions, putting the health and safety of families at risk. As our state continues to battle this housing crisis, my office and the Tenant Harassment Prevention Task Force will always stand up for New York tenants in the face of illegal abuse.”
By: Veronica Rose (Veronica is the CityLaw fellow and a New York Law School graduate, Class of 2018).