NEW YORK—Today, Senator Brad Hoylman (D/WFP-Manhattan) introduced legislation to prevent landlords convicted of fraud or violating housing laws from receiving financing from State chartered banks. The announcement came during the Stop Croman Coalition rally featuring impacted tenants and the Stop Croman Coalition Choir holiday rally held on Thursday, December 16 at 12-14 East 72nd Street, in front of the mansion of one of New York City's most notorious landlords: Steve Croman of Centennial Properties, formerly known as 9300 Realty. You can view the tenant justice holiday carol songbook here.
Senator Hoylman said: “Let’s turn off the spigot so crooked landlords can’t keep buying property and terrorizing tenants. Steve Croman has gotten millions in loans since he was released from jail, only to repeat the same dangerous acts of negligence that made him notorious in the first place. We can and must stop this cycle to protect our neighbors, and ourselves, from landlords we know are dangerous.”
When a landlord is found time and again to disregard housing law and target tenants with harassment, it is reasonable to expect financial institutions to analyze this record when considering future financing. Certain bad actors have been convicted of illegal harassment, coercion, or fraud against tenants, only to turn around and get financing for a new building to exploit.
Perhaps the most notorious example of this phenomenon has been Steve Croman, known as the “Madoff of Landlords,” who was found to have a long history of tenant harassment and neglect in addition to having committed multiple financial crimes for which he was convicted and sentenced in 2017 to one year of jail time and ordered to pay $8 million in restitution to his victims. A consent decree required that Croman place over 100 of his properties under new independent management, with a monitor in place to oversee compliance. However, after his stint in jail, Croman returned only to go on a buying spree of new buildings. Despite his past legal troubles, tenants report that Croman is continuing his old patterns of harassment and neglect.
Part of the settlement with the State handed temporary control of buildings to Michael Besen’s New York City Management until 2023. However, many NYCM employees are former Croman 9300 Realty employees and the culture of disrepair and neglect is identical. Croman is still obtaining financing for his real estate deals from state chartered banks.
This bill would help address the lack of accountability by prohibiting State chartered banks from issuing loans to landlords that have been convicted of violating housing laws. Bad actors that act with impunity should not be given the chance to continue victimizing New Yorkers.