When one party isn’t holding up their end of the bargain in a lease contract, there needs to be an appropriate course of action to get everything operating as it should. This is exactly what happened in New York City as the city’s mayor as well as the governor and state attorney recently came to a first-of-its-kind settlement with a realty company and a pro-tenant task force. According to a Sept. 27, 2017 press release from the New York State Attorney General’s Office, tenants of some ICON Realty Management properties will receive a few forms of relief for essentially having to live in a construction zone with intermittent utility service.
According to the press release, tenants living in ICON buildings in the East Village, Lower East Side and Brooklyn were dealing with “excessive dust and debris” due to construction in common areas of the apartments. Further, the attorney general’s office argues that heat, hot water and gas service were “inconsistent and irregular.” To New York City area lawyer Jeffrey Benjamin — whose experience includes arguing trespass and nuisance cases – litigation may be the only method to obtain the best possible outcome after repeated instances of ignored repair requests and other code violations. New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, whose office announced the agreement, additionally addressed the legal ramifications of landlords failing to uphold their portions of a signed and dated lease.
“Unscrupulous landlords should be on notice: we’ll use every legal tool at our disposal to protect New York’s tenants,” Schneiderman said in a press release. “Too often, bad landlords see rent-regulated apartments as a goldmine — looking to make a quick buck by using construction to harass tenants out of their homes. No New Yorker should have to fear for their health or their safety in their own home.”
Of particular interest to attorney Jeffrey Benjamin, whose work as a trial lawyer and background in real estate-related cases gives him unique insight into this case, is the Tenant Harassment Prevention Task Force. The group, which was formed in 2015, conducts thorough inspections of New York City buildings while also interviewing tenants and can contribute to investigations if the promised services aren’t being delivered. While the work that this group does is invaluable, lawyer Jeffrey Benjamin notes that tenants coming forward to speak with someone who has a background in prosecuting and defending victims in court can also help them out of an unfortunate situation. Given that Mr. Benjamin has previously tackled breach of contract, fraud, trespass and nuisance cases to name a few, he encourages tenants who feel disadvantaged to come forward with their claims. As this New York City case shows, it’s possible to reach a favorable outcome — but only once the grievances are made public.