Table of Contents (Click on the tabs above to select the information for each topic)
Getting Repairs Done
Creating a Paper Trail
Knowing Your Rights
Lease and Billing Issues
Illegal Use of Apartments
Overcharges and Illegal Deregulation of Apartments
Keeping Your Neighbors Informed
Getting Repairs Done
Reporting a Repair:
Make a list of what repairs are necessary in your apartment and building. A repair checklist is included at the end of this toolkit to help you make a thorough list.
Take photos to document the issues.
Contact your superintendent, property manager, and the tenant liaison representative for your building. It is best to do this contact through email or certified mail. Sample email templates are included at the end of this packet.
If you do not know who your tenant liaison is you can email Felipe Olmeta, email@example.com, with your building address to find out
In your email or letter, suggest dates when they will be able to access your apartment for inspection and to do the repairs. If possible, give a few potential dates for access.
Escalating Your Complaint:
If you do not receive a response, you can escalate your complaint by contacting the following people:
Higher-Ups at New York City Management:
Matt Mager, Executive Director: firstname.lastname@example.org
Phone number for New York City Management: 347-650-3902
Third-Party Monitor (responsible for making surethe Consent Decree is followed and reporting issues to the Attorney General):
Andrew Pucher: email@example.com
Phone Number: 917-200-4356
Tenant Liaison Supervisor (overseeing the Tenant Liaisons who are supposed to facilitate repairs):
Felipe Olmeta: firstname.lastname@example.org
Phone Number: 917-710-6639
Kerri White: Special Assistant for Housing & Community Development
Croman.Tenants@ag.ny.gov (set up for the purpose of accepting complaints)
Phone Number: 212-416-6056
Getting a Violation Issued:
If your complaint to management is not addressed in a timely manner, you should CALL 311 and make a complaint with
the city about a repair issue in your apartment or building. Make sure you write down the complaint number they give you. You
can also submit a 311 complaint online at https://portal.311.nyc.gov/ or through the 311 app.The city will send
an inspector to visit you apartment to inspect and issue a violation. You can make the complaints anonymously if it is a
building wide issue or you are worried about retaliation, but it is more effective in getting a violation issued if you share
your contact information. If you want to get a violation issued it is more effective if you put your apartment number. If the
landlord or anyone affiliated with the landlord shows up with the city inspector, you should ask them to wait outside the
apartment during the inspection.
Reporting repairs and making sure that violations are issued is important, particularly because one of the factors that
determines whether Croman can take buildings back from New York City Management is the number of violations on file with
Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) and the Department of Buildings (DOB).
Contacting Your Elected Officials:
Elected officials offices can be a great resource, and you should let their office know about what is going on if there are
serious issues that are not addressed. Once you have a complaint number from calling 311, you can contact your local City Council
Member or State Senator. They can help follow up on your complaint and make arrangements for an inspector to come see the
conditions in your building or apartment.
If the landlord is unresponsive to repairs, you can initiate an HP Action in Housing Court to force your landlord to do the
repairs. Contact your local tenants' rights organization for assistance and to see if you are eligible for free legal
representation. See the end of this packet for a comprehensive list of organizations that can assist you.
Regardless of the issue you are dealing with,the best way to protect yourself is to report everything in writing and keep
detailed records. Here are a few suggestions:
Take photos of issues reported.
Keep yourself organized by creating an album on your phone or computer.
Start a designated journal to keep track of all your interactions with your landlord. Make sure you record the date,
time, who you interacted with, and what they said.
Follow up phone and in person conversations with an email recapping what was discussed and any concerns.
Include photos when appropriate
Copy the email addresses from the contact list on the first page on all emails to NYC Management. It is especially
important to include the Third-Party Monitor and the Attorney General.
Sample email templates are provided at the end of this packet.
You can create an email folder to keep your emails to management organized.
After work is done in your apartment, send a recap email with what was done, any issues you encountered, and what work
still remains. Take "before" and "after" photos of the work. If there was any substandard work done that may need to be
re-done, make sure you document and mention that. You can also call 311 and have the city come to inspect any work that you
think was done improperly.
Knowing Your Rights
The Consent Decree states that Management must commence work to correct immediately hazardous apartment
repairs within 24 hours of receipt of notice. Management must commence work to correct regular repairs within
72 hours of receipt of notice of the repair.
Management has stated that for jobs that require licensed and/or specialized repair persons, management
will seek two bifds and will request that the vendor present a proposal within 10 days.
For larger jobs, management has stated that they will distribute a memo to tenants 2-5 business days
before the scheduled work commencement date with the proposed work, the schedule of the work, the dates
that the work will be performed, and the name of the contractor/contracting company who will be performing
the work. You can request this memo for jobs where it is necessary.
Licenses and Work Permits
Licenses and permits are required for most jobs that involve plumbing, electrical work, or changing
the layout of the apartment and/or building.
Ask for licenses. Your tenant liaison may be able to assist with getting a copy of the license that
is on file at the management's office.
You can refuse to give access to your apartment if management refuses to produce required licenses
If management continues work without a permit, you can call 311 and request that a Stop Work Order be
issued. If they continue doing the construction after the Stop Work Order is issued, you should call 311 to
report a violation of the Stop Work Order.
Notice before Accessing Apartment
You have the right to receive written notice at least 24 hours in advance of Management accessing
your apartment, unless there is an emergency or a governmental agency is present to inspect.
If management does not provide written notice at least 24 hours in advance and it is not an
emergency, you can refuse access to your apartment.
You have the right to refuse access to your apartment except for bona fide reason. The Consent
Decree describes a "bona fide reason" as access to cure violations, access for repairs, access for
emergency inspections, access for building wide construction or repairs, and access for prospective
leasing of your unit after you have indicated that you are not going to renew your lease. In these
situations, except in cases of emergency you have the right to negotiate a day that works for you
for access. However, you should be aware that if you make a complaint and then do not give access
for repairs, you can be taken to court for refusing to give access.
You can request that the Tenant Liaison be present during any work that is being done.
If your apartment is being inspected by an inspector from a city agency (Housing Preservation
and Development or the Department of Buildings) and a representative of the landlord shows up,you
do not have to let the representative of the landlord into the apartment along with the inspector.
According to the Consent Decree, Management must issue an abatement for rent-regulated tenants
in the following amounts:
When there is a deprivation of an essential service (outline what this is): 25% off of
your monthly rent when there is a deprivation of an essential service for more than 48 hours,
50% off of your monthly rent when there is a deprivation of an essential service for more
than three months.
25% off of your monthly rent when there is major construction in the building
Protection from dust and debris
The Consent Decree states that Management will ensure that dust mitigation plans are in place
and followed and that all work sites are cleaned daily, and will protect tenants' apartments and
their belongings from dust and debris.
If they break something, you should be reimbursed.
Leasing & Billing Issues
Rent Stabilized Tenants
Rent stabilized tenants must be offered a renewal lease. The lease can be for a term of one or two years, and the increase is set by the
Rent Guidelines Board.
The landlord must deliver your renewal lease by mail or in person not more than 120 days and not less than 90 days before your lease
The tenant has 60 days from when the renewal lease is sent to fill out and sign the lease and return it to the landlord.
The landlord must return a fully signed and dated copy of the renewal lease to the tenant within 30 days.
If you do not receive your renewal lease and it is less than 90 days until your lease expires, you should notify management in writing and copy the parties whose email addresses are listed on the first page.
If they are unresponsive, you should file a complaint with the Department of Housing and Community Renewal, using the form “Tenant's Complaint of Owner's Failure to Renew Lease and/or Failure to Furnish a Copy of Signed Lease.” You can also file this form if they fail to return a copy of the signed lease to you.
Renewal leases must keep the same terms and conditions as your original lease, unless there is a change needed for the landlord to comply with a specific law. If you have questions about signing a particular rider, you should reach out to your local tenants' rights organization.
Incorrect renewal leases are a common experience for Croman tenants. Make sure to double-check the math on the one- and two-year rent increases, the additional security, and also if the security deposit they have listed as on file is correct.
Tenants in Unregulated Apartments
Tenants in unregulated apartments are not entitled to a renewal lease, but the landlord must give notice if they intend to not renew your lease or raise your rent by more than 5%. If you have lived in the apartment for less than one year, 30 days notice is required. If you have lived in the apartment for 1-2 years, 60 days notice is required. If you have lived in the apartment for 2 or more years, 90 days notice is required.
If you believe that your landlord is not offering you a renewal lease or is raising your rent in retaliation for complaints you made regarding repairs or conditions in your apartment, you should contact your local tenants' rights organization. You may be able to fight this.
You should also investigate whether your apartment was illegally deregulated (see section below).
Double-check your renewal lease to ensure that the amount they have listed as the security deposit is correct, and that they are not overcharging you on the increase.
Tenants should be informed of the name and address of the banking organization in which the security deposit is made and the amount of the deposit. Management should respond to inquiries regarding your security deposit in a timely manner.
The security deposit must be returned within 14 days at the end of occupancy.
Paying Your Rent
It is important to have proof that you paid your rent in case management tries to claim that you have not been paying your rent, refuses to cash the rent checks, etc.
Make copies of your checks or money orders before sending them in. If you are sending by certified mail, write the certified mail number on the
If you drop off the checks or money orders in person, make sure you get a stamped and signed copy that verifies that you dropped it off. Legally, landlords must provide tenants with a written receipt when rent is paid in cash, a money order, a cashier’s check, or in any form other than the personal check of the tenant. If you pay your rent in person check you may request, in writing, a rent receipt from the landlord. The receipt must state the payment date, the amount, the period for which the rent was paid, and the apartment number. The receipt must be signed by the person receiving the payment and state their title.
If you have the option to pay directly through your bank, that will also create a paper trail.
Here are some common safety concerns in Croman Buildings:
Fire egress: One issue that has come up is that buildings lack a second means of egress because the backyard has been converted into a fenced-off private courtyard or is blocked due to construction. Another way that fire egress is commonly blocked is through bump-ups and fenced-in rooftop decks. If you are experiencing these issues, You can call 311 and request a Fire Department inspection. Additional fire safety issues include fire escape steps that are rusted and brittle.
Doors: Your apartment door should be self-closing. If it is not, you can call 311 and make a complaint.
Overview and Eligibility
The Consent Decree required that Croman pay $8 million in four equal installments into the Croman Tenant Restitution Fund. Tenants who occupied a Rent-Regulated unit between July 1, 2011 and December 20, 2017. Tenants who are disputing the status of their apartment may be eligible as well. Forms to apply can be found on the website of the Claims Administrator (below).
According to the Consent Decree, Croman will pay into the fund according to the following schedule:
$2 million within 4 months of the Effective Date (by April 20, 2018)
$2 million within 16 months of the Effective Date (by April 20, 2019)
$2 million within 24 months of the Effective Date (by April 20, 2020)
$2 million within 36 months of the Effective Date (by April 20, 2021)
The funds will be distributed equally between the tenants who apply (therefore, every round of payment
may not be the same if additional tenants are found eligible). The first round of checks from the restitution
fund were sent in December 2018. The second round of checks from the restitution fund were sent in October 2019.
Additional questions about the Restitution Fund should be directed to the agency which is managing the fund.
The contact information is below:
Mailing Address: Croman Tenant Restitution Fund
c/o JND Legal Administration
P.O. Box 91349
Seattle, WA 98111
Phone Number: 1-833-898-4009 (Dial 7 to speak with a real person)
Illegal Use of Apartments (Airbnb, Prostitution, Party Rentals)
Many tenants have reported that illegal short-term rentals are being run in their buildings.
What is an Illegal Short-Term Rental?
An illegal short-term rental means that apartments are being rented out for less than 30 days and the tenant is not staying in the
apartment. AirBNB is one of the biggest platforms for illegal short-term rentals, but other websites are commonly used as well.
While common, in NYC it is not legal for renters to sublease their entire apartments for less than 30 days, or for landlords to sublease
apartments for less than 30 days.
As a neighbor, it can be frustrating and may feel unsafe to have a high turnover of unknown guests in the building.
It can cause extra noise or trash and cleaning materials to be left around the building. Additionally, it is unsafe for
guests, because the apartments they are staying in may not be set up to host multiple people on a short-term basis, or
do not have the proper fire safety systems or number of exits. Additionally, short-term rentals change the character of
neighborhoods and take away affordable housing.
The NYC Office of Special Enforcement is in charge of monitoring and dealing with short-term rentals. You can visit
their website to learn more or submit a complaint: http://nyc.gov/stayintheknow
What can I do to stop this if it is happening in my building?
If you are comfortable, speak with the guests directly. Be friendly and gather as much information as you can. You’d be surprised how much guests are willing to share in a casual conversation.
Apartment you are staying in
Who lives there
Where they found listing
Inform your landlord in writing of your suspicion of a short-term rental.
You should report any suspicion of short-term rentals to the City by calling 311. You can call 311 and say you want to report an illegal “short-term rental” to be directed to the right person to make your complaint. You can also go to the website of the Office of Special Enforcement to submit a complaint directly: http://nyc.gov/stayintheknow
When you call, it is good to have as much information as possible, including which apartment, when the guests are usually there
If you know the platform that was used for booking or can find the listing, this information can be helpful as well.
The Office of Special Enforcement will send a team to the building to inspect. They have to find a guest in the apartment in order to issue a violation, which is why it is important to give information about when guests are usually there. Violations are generally issued based on the apartment not being up to fire code.
If you are able to find a listing for your building online, forward it to the Office of Special Enforcement or report it by calling 311.
Once a violation has been issued, let the landlord know. Ultimately, it is up to the landlord to stop the illegal short-term rentals and resolve
Overcharges and Illegal Deregulation of Apartments
Many market-rate tenants move into unregulated apartments and are paying high rents. They may not know that
their apartment used to be rent stabilized, that it has been taken out of the rent stabilization system illegally,
and that they could be paying a much lower rent and get money back for the rent they overpaid. If your landlord
intentionally overcharged you, you can receive back 3 times the money that you overpaid.
The first step to figuring this out is to request your rental history from Housing and Community Renewal, the state
agency which oversees rent regulation. This is a document which shows the past rents for your apartment and can be used
to help determine if your apartment was deregulated legally or not.
How to Access Your Rent History:
There is a tool for tenants to easily request their rent history through JustFix NYC. Fill out a form here, and your rent history
will be mailed to you: https://app.justfix.nyc/rh/splash
You can go to the HCR office in person for a certified copy. Make sure to bring proof of your address.
Make sure to request your rent history going back to 1984, when HCR began registering apartments.
Once you receive your rent history, contact a tenants’ rights organization or visit a free legal history to have your rent history
reviewed and discuss next steps
If you are a rent stabilized tenant who believes your rent has been illegally increased, you should also request your rent history and, if necessary, file an overcharge complaint.
The Housing Rights Initiative works with groups of tenants who have been overcharged to file lawsuits. (Not sure of their contact info).
Keeping Your Neighbors Informed
Tenants are most successful in fighting back and getting repairs done when they unite in a Tenants’ Association! Even
if you have high turnover in the building, you should talk with your neighbors about the problems in the building and
organize a meeting. Issues like illegal short-term rentals or potential deregulation of apartments can be used to bring
market-rate tenants into the Association. You can contact your local tenants’ rights organization for assistance in
organizing a Tenants’ Association.
The Stop Croman Coalition played an instrumental role in putting Croman in jail and pushing the Attorney General
to pursue the case against Croman. The Stop Croman Coalition continues to organize tenants in Croman buildings to ensure that
the temporary management company is not violating tenants’ rights and Croman is not violating the Consent Decree.
You can learn more at https://stopcromancoalition.org/.
There are several individuals who tenants should keep an eye out for:
Steve Croman: Croman is allowed to visit buildings, and has been frequently sighted around his buildings since he was released from jail. However, he is not permitted to interact with rent-regulated tenants.
Falconite is not permitted to contact rent-regulated tenants.
Other people of concern: if you see their name on documents or see them, contact the Attorney General with the details.
Jeanette Donovan (May not still be working for Croman)
Rose & Rose Law Firm
Kossoff, PLLC. Law firm
Other people to look out for:
Shelly Ann Ramkhelawan (Paralegal for NYCM)
Annabelle Santiago (In charge of Property Managers)
Croman Tenant Complaint Form (May be printed, filled out, scanned,and sent as an attachment to the appropriate agency; We are email@example.com)