Thursday, September 28, 2017

Icon Realty fined $500,000 in tenant harassment probe

Well-known East Village property owners Icon Realty, led by Todd Cohen and Terrence Lowenberg, will have to pay $500,000 and address several building violations as part of a settlement over alleged harassment of tenants, it was announced yesterday.

Here's the official statement about the tenant harassment probe:

Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio today announced a first of its kind settlement between the Tenant Harassment Prevention Task Force (Task Force) and ICON Realty Management (ICON). This settlement provides tenants broad relief, requiring the landlord to end harassment and hazardous living conditions for the hundreds of tenants in buildings owned and managed by ICON.

Tenants in several ICON-owned rent-regulated buildings in the East Village, the Lower East Side and Brooklyn were forced to live in adverse conditions, enduring excessive dust and debris from construction in the building common areas and apartments, inconsistent and irregular heat and hot water, and lack of cooking gas and elevator service for extended periods.

The Task Force investigation found that, on multiple occasions, ICON failed to obtain Department of Buildings work permits, performed construction outside the scope of permits issued, and failed to appropriately clean or maintain the construction work areas.

The Task Force investigation also found that ICON ignored tenants’ requests for repairs, failed to timely correct housing and building code violations, and subjected tenants to long-lasting interruptions of heat, hot water, and cooking gas services.

The Assurance of Discontinuance executed today by the Attorney General’s office requires ICON to adopt policies and procedures to prevent future violations and safety risks; corrects all outstanding housing, maintenance, and building code violations; establishes safe construction practices; provides rent abatements to tenants during disruptions of essential services; appoints a tenant liaison to immediately address tenant concerns; and establishes an independent monitor to ensure ICON’s compliance with the agreement.

The settlement also requires ICON to pay $300,000 to the State of New York (on behalf of the Task Force) and over $200,000 in penalties, fees, and costs to New York City’s Housing Preservation & Development and Department of Buildings.

In a statement to The Wall Street Journal, Icon attorney Ken Fisher said:

"Icon never, ever intended to harass tenants and the task force made no finding of harassment because none occurred. There were some construction issues in a handful of buildings which Icon addressed over a year ago, giving affected tenants rent abatements, and changing their procedures to prevent reoccurrence."

As The Real Deal reported, Fisher described the task force's press release as "completely overblown and misleading," and said the "company is reviewing its legal actions."

This past summer, Icon made the list of Stabilizing NYC's "10 worst predatory equity landlords" in NYC.

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

Icon guilty as charged. Who's next.

Gojira said...

Too bad the people living around ICON buildings and impacted by the shitty behavior of the drunken Millennials ICON loves to rent to can't band together in a class action lawsuit to make them tell their tenants to behave like human beings, and not drunken baboons.

sophocles said...

Whom to believe, the Task Force, or Icon attorney Ken Fisher? Let me ponder that one...

Anonymous said...

I'm shocked to discover that NYC property owners are @$$holes.

Anonymous said...

What a lot of crap. The State and City get $500,000 to split between them while the tenants, who are the victims and the ones that suffered the harassment, inconvenience and lack of safety get a rent abatement? Shame on the City. Shame on the State. That money should be equally distributed amongst the tenants that suffered. $100K to the City and State to split to cover the time spent by the courts and court officers. $400K to go to everyone else.
Typical typical typical. Our leaders and government forget who they represent.

Anonymous said...

I'd love to hear from any Icon tenants whether this actually amounts to anything.

Anonymous said...

Wow, Good news! I only wish they were cracking down like this earlier. It's so funny to hear ICON say this is overblown, when it probably just scratches the surface.

I can only hope they embrace decency, but assume they will change their tactics to something more insidious -- in that case the penalties will hopefully include dissolution or receivership, and jail.

Why does HPD need the attorney general to enforce collection of fines. That's a broken system.

cmarrtyy said...

Great victory... for all of us.

Giovanni said...

ICON Realty? Shouldn't it be WE CON Realty? All of the money should go to the tenants, but I'm aftrad this is like the Maria Hrynenko case: Most of the money will go to the lawyers.

Anonymous said...

Next up Jared Kushner and his slumlord front company Westminster Management. Not that they manage very well or anything.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, I live in one of Icon's buildings. I think this is huge. Icon has no trouble screwing people over until they are exposed. Even though their reputation is shit they still seem very concerned with how they are perceived by the public. It was harassment; for YEARS now. No question is was harassment! The AG never asked me before they settled and I have a story to tell.

I agree with the other comment that this should have been addressed by the DOB or HPD after years of complaints and violations in many of Icon's buildings.

Spread the word...DO NOT RENT FROM ICON!!!!

Anonymous said...

I would hope the renters get compensation.

Anonymous said...

Icon is scum and the city is so slow to act and react. The system is so rigged.