Brooklyn Boro

State Task Force puts a stop to Brooklyn slumlords

October 13, 2022 Rob Abruzzese
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A New York State Task Force reached an agreement with a notorious Brooklyn landlord for harassing tenants and engaging in unlawful practices in managing its buildings.

Greenbrook Holdings, LLC and its owner Greg Fournier settled with the New York State Homes and Community Renewal Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskas and the Tenant Harassment Prevention Task Force for harassment of tenants in the 188 buildings it owns, which are located mostly here in Brooklyn.

“This settlement will bring relief to thousands of Brooklyn residents who are subjected to unsafe building conditions because of landlord neglect,” said NYC Corporation Counsel Hon. Sylvia Hinds-Radix. “The City and State will continue working together through the Tenant Harassment Prevention Task Force to protect tenants and hold accountable landlords who violate their rights.”

Fournier and Greenbrook Holdings had over 1,000 apartments in total and many of those are rent stabilized, however, they failed to register those apartments with NYS Homes and Community Renewal, the agency said.

As part of the settlement, Fournier and Greenbrook Holdings will pay $100,000 in penalties to the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development and will give a $7,500 credit to every current tenant who moved into ten of their worst buildings on or before July 1, 2021.

Fournier and Greenbrook Holdings will also be forced to hire external monitors to oversee construction activity and compliance within their buildings, and correct hundreds of violations across 22 of their most appaling buildings within 60 days.

“In addition to the hundreds of egregious violations of city tenant protection laws, Fournier and Greenbrook failed to register rent stabilized units with HCR, a lawful requirement of all owners of rent regulated apartments in the city of New York which serves to protect tenants from illegal rent hikes and harassment designed to displace them,” said New York State Homes and Community Renewal Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskas.

“Today’s settlement sends a clear message to property owners inclined to flout regulations designed to protect affordable rental housing units that the State will not stand idly by as they do so,” Visnauskas continued. “We are grateful to our partners in the Task Force for our ongoing collaboration that yields such valuable outcomes for vulnerable tenants in New York. Since the creation of the State’s TPU, the unit’s audit, investigative, and enforcement activities have recaptured and registered over 95,000 improperly deregulated apartments and proactively recovered approximately $6.6 million in overcharged rent for tenants unaware they were being unlawfully overcharged.”

Fournier and Greenbrook Holdings were accused of forcing their tenants to live in dangerous living conditions, including illegal construction and frequent interruption of gas, heat, and water.

Starting in 2019, Greenbrook has been busy purchasing properties and immediately beginning significant construction projects, including dangerous working conditions, unpermitted construction, harassment of tenants, lack of regular maintenance and repairs, and failure to comply with rent regulation requirements, according to the Task Force.

The Task Force initiated its investigation after it received multiple complaints from tenants about Greenbrook’s management practices and began its first litigation in December 2020.

From there the investigation expanded to reveal many more illegal and unsafe construction projects without permits, which often left tenants without heat, water or gas. The Task Force ultimately found more than 1,200 open HPD violations and 700 Department of Buildings violations in Greenbrook’s buildings.

Those violations included things like unsafe or exposed electrical wiring, leaky roofs, lack of cooking gas, pest nuisances, missing or defective smoke and carbon dioxide detectors, and construction work without a permit.

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