Landlord Raphael Toledano Settles Harassment Lawsuit for $3M and Other Penalties
Controversial landlord Raphael Toledano, long a perpetrator of harassment in his residential properties, must now pay the piper.
Attorney General Letitia James yesterday announced a settlement with Toledano for $3 million in damages and penalties. An independent monitor will also oversee his real estate holdings to ensure fraud and harassment has ceased. Nor is he permitted to communicate with tenants.
The investigation revealed that Toledano “engaged in a pattern of fraudulent and illegal conduct throughout his work as a landlord and real estate developer.”
Below is an excerpt from the media advisory.
Attorney General Letitia James yesterday announced a settlement with Raphael Toledano to put an end to his harassment of New York City tenants and to prevent him from engaging in speculative real estate deals designed to profit by violating New York’s rent-stabilization laws.
“Access to safe, affordable housing is a right,” said Attorney General Letitia James. “Putting profits over people is unacceptable, and my office will hold any landlord accountable who violates the law to increase their bottom line. Under no circumstance should tenants be subjected to the harassment perpetrated by landlords like Raphael Toledano.”
Under the terms of their settlement agreement, Toledano’s real estate business will be supervised by an Independent Monitor, who will ensure that Toledano ceases to engage in fraud and tenant harassment. Toledano will not be allowed to have any direct contact with tenants, and will be required to hire an independent management company for any of his properties. In addition, Toledano has agreed to pay $3 million in damages and penalties. If Toledano violates the terms of his agreement, then Attorney General James will seek a lifetime bar against any further participation in the real estate industry, as well as a suspended judgment of $10 million.
Attorney General James and Governor Cuomo’s Tenant Protection Unit (TPU) within New York State Homes and Community Renewal began investigating Toledano after receiving complaints from tenants and community advocates about his use of harassment, unsafe construction, and other illegal conduct to push tenants out of their rent-stabilized homes. Since the creation of the Governor’s TPU in 2012, the unit has conducted multiple investigations and coordinated enforcement activities resulting in the registration of over 78,000 improperly deregulated apartments and the recovery of approximately $5 million in overcharged rent for unsuspecting tenants.
Attorney General James’ investigation established that Toledano engaged in a pattern of fraudulent and illegal conduct throughout his work as a landlord and real estate developer. He harassed tenants through coercive buyouts, illegal construction practices and failed to provide his rent-regulated tenants with utilities, repairs, and other necessary services. Toledano also engaged in deceptive business practices in his real estate transactions, including repeatedly and persistently misrepresenting himself as a lawyer and advertising apartments with 3 or 4 bedrooms, when legally the apartment could only have 1 or 2 bedrooms.
The case was brought to the Office of Attorney General James by Community Development Project and Cooper Square Committee.