Manhattan, Brooklyn landlord to pay $500G in tenant harassment task force settlement, AG says

New York State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman has announced that ICON has agreed to pay $500,000 in a settlement with the government's task force. / Yeong-Ung Yang

A government task force aimed at cracking down on tenant harassment scored a major victory Wednesday over a landlord it claimed kept buildings in Manhattan and Brooklyn in a state of disrepair.

Attorney General Schneiderman announced that ICON Realty Management settled with the Tenant Harassment Prevention Task Force and agreed to pay $500,000 for various violations at its rent-regulated buildings in the East Village, Lower East Side and Brooklyn.

Schneiderman said an investigation by the city and state’s collaborative task force found that ICON failed to provide heat, hot water, cooking gas and elevator service for extended periods of time. ICON also did not obtain permits from the city’s Department of Buildings for work it undertook, according to Schneiderman.

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The attorney general said tenants were forced to endure excessive dust and debris from the construction work, and their requests for repairs went ignored.

“Too often, bad landlords see rent-regulated apartments as a gold mine — looking to make a quick buck by using construction to harass tenants out of their homes,” Schneiderman said in a statement. “No New Yorker should have to fear for their health or their safety in their own home.”

Ken Fisher, an attorney for ICON, wrote in an email that the task force’s settlement announcement was “completely overblown and the company is reviewing its legal actions.”

Fisher said ICON is proud to have grown its portfolio from one building to more than 100 over the past 15 years without controversy, until a couple of construction-related issues arose at a handful of buildings. ICON addressed those issues more than a year ago by giving tenants rent abatements and enacting procedures that would prevent these issues in the future, Fisher noted.

“The task force made no finding of harassment because none occurred, no tenants were displaced and any claim to the contrary is just political hype,” Fisher wrote in the email. “The settlement imposes no penalty although Icon will be paying the kind of routine fines for building violations that every landlord faces.”

ICON agreed to pay $200,000 in penalties and fees to city agencies, and $300,000 to the state, which Fisher claimed was to cover the cost of the task force’s investigation.

Additionally, ICON committed to correcting all code violations and working with an independent monitor to ensure it sticks to the settlement.