After an out-of-state bank foreclosed on a badly neglected four-family building in the Bronx, New York, the bank was left with multiple occupants not paying any rent, a badly deteriorated and unsafe building, a myriad of Department of Housing Preservation and Development (“HPD”) violations and HPD enforcement litigation concerning lack of heat and hot water and physical construction related violations. The bank’s asset was in significant risk and the bank was facing exorbitant fines, civil penalties, liens and other liability. HPD placed a lis pendens on the building. The bank, which was previously represented by two other law firms in the eviction and HPD cases, respectively, turned to Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C. for help.
We substituted into all of the cases, investigated the facts, and immediately went to work. First, we aggressively pursued the eviction cases and warrants were issued by the Court. Eviction dates were soon scheduled and evictions commenced. Our office fully coordinated the evictions and the locksmith to secure the premises. When the evictions began, the occupants began damaging and destroying the building even more. After the initial evictions, some occupants broke back into their units. Late the same night, we notified the police department and obtained a 24-hour locksmith to regain possession and again to secure the premises. We were on sight late after hours to coordinate with the police department and the locksmith.
Other occupants retained counsel and filed emergency applications challenging the eviction proceedings commenced by predecessor counsel, including service and other issues, and sought more time in the premises. Our team aggressively opposed the applications, negotiated and obtained waivers of the occupants’ arguments, and, within a few months, obtained evictions for all occupants of the building.
While the eviction cases were pending, HPD prosecuted several cases against the bank. In one case, where HPD sought correction of physical violations, predecessor counsel already agreed to a consent order and a payment of fines. The deadline to correct was fast approaching and no action was taking place. In the second case, HPD sought more fines and penalties concerning lack of heat and hot water violations. The boiler in the building was broken.
The bank asked that we locate and contract with a local contractor to arrange the correction of all violations in order to comply with the consent order. We diligently searched for a contractor to undertake the massive project. After many contractors offered to buy the building for a low-ball sum instead of work on it, we finally located a willing contractor and negotiated the construction contract. As the work progressed, we often traveled to the building to monitor and inspect the progress.
The client was facing hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines and penalties and HPD was ramping up its enforcement actions. We began extensive negotiations with HPD regarding all open issues and demonstrated to HPD that the building was vacant. We then settled all fines and civil penalties for a fraction of the bank’s potential liability and negotiated additional months to complete the required abatement of the violations.
We continued to monitor the work and submitted requests for and scheduled HPD clearance inspections. As the HPD inspection was approaching, we performed several top to bottom inspections of the building with the contractor and list of all open violations and created several drafts of punch list items for completion. We then performed additional inspections.
We then accompanied the HPD inspector throughout the entire building with a list of all violations as the inspector reviewed and recorded his findings on all open issues.
After the inspection was complete we continued to negotiate the matter with HPD and obtained stipulations closing all enforcement proceedings and vacating the lis pendens from the building, which allowed the bank to locate an investor to purchase the building.
Vladimir Mironenko of Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C. represented the bank in the eviction and HPD cases.