New York Attorney General Letitia James and the Tenant Harassment Prevention Task Force announced that they have reached a settlement with Greg Fournier and his real estate company, Greenbrook Holdings, LLC.

Greenbrook was accused of harassing tenants and engaging in unlawful practices in managing its buildings in Brooklyn. 

As a result of the settlement, Fournier and Greenbrook will pay $100,000 in penalties to the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development. Fournier and Greenbrook will also credit $7,500 to every current tenant who moved into ten of their worst buildings on or before July 1, 2021; hire external monitors to oversee construction activity and compliance; and correct hundreds of violations across 22 of the most egregiously managed buildings within 60 days of signing. 

Greenbrook owns 188 buildings comprising approximately 1,000 units. Most of these units are rent-stabilized, with the majority of them in neighborhoods throughout Brooklyn. Tenants were living in dangerous conditions, including illegal construction and frequent interruption of essential services like their gas and water.

“Greenbrook and Mr. Fournier forced tenants to live in unsafe and unacceptable conditions with no regard for anything but their own bottom line,” James said.

“Tenants lived through dangerous construction, went without essential services such as gas and water, and suffered unsanitary conditions, putting the health and safety of families at risk. As our state continues to battle this housing crisis, my office and the Tenant Harassment Prevention Task Force will always stand up for New York tenants in the face of illegal abuse.”

Between 2019 and 2021, Greenbrook purchased new properties in New York and began construction projects. The task force received multiple complaints from tenants about the management and habitability of some Greenbrook buildings.

Tenants detailed issues like unsafe conditions, unpermitted construction activities, warehoused apartments, lack of regular maintenance and repairs, failure to comply with rent regulation requirements and harassment. In December 2020, HPD initiated comprehensive litigation against two of the buildings. 

The expanded investigation found negligent conduct in the ownership, management, and operation of the buildings. Site inspections revealed Greenbrook was engaging in illegal and unsafe construction projects without the appropriate permits, often leaving tenants without access to essential resources such as water, heat and gas. Greenbrook also consistently failed to file the required annual building and unit registrations for rent-stabilized tenants.

Overall, there are more than 1,200 open HPD violations and 700 total DOB violations throughout Greenbrook’s buildings. The most dangerous violations include lead-based hazards, 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.

Under the settlement, Greenbrook will correct all Housing Maintenance Code and Multiple Dwelling Law violations in the 22 buildings and submit all documents and fees for a “dismissal request” inspection to HPD no later than 60 days after signing. Greenbrook will also correct all Construction Code violations issued by DOB and the task force.

The settlement also identifies ten buildings that have the most serious and concerning conditions, and Greenbrook must pay all current tenants who moved into those ten buildings on or before July 1, 2021, a $7,500 rent credit.

Greenbrook will also provide a 15% rental abatement per day for any tenant who experiences a disruption in access to water, heat, electricity, or gas going forward. In addition to these individual payments, Greenbrook will pay $100,000 in penalties for violations associated with the ten properties.

“Putting tenants at risk with shoddy and unpermitted construction work is dangerous and unacceptable,” New York City Department of Buildings Commissioner Eric Ulrich said.

“Today’s announcement is a major victory for Greenbrook’s tenants, and hopefully a deterrent to those who might contemplate using construction as a tool for harassment.”

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.