By Mariel S. Clark
MANHATTAN — Attorney General Andrew Cuomo is suing one of upper Manhattan's largest landlords for allegedly harassing thousands of tenants who live in rent-regulated apartments.
Cuomo will seek damages for more than 9,500 tenants supposedly victimized by Vantage Properties, he said in a statement Thursday.
"Vantage tries to evict some tenants by falsely claiming that they do not primarily live in their apartments or that they have failed to pay rent," the statement read. "Vantage’s actions are often based on information that is incorrect or information that Vantage should know is false."
According to Cuomo's office, Vantage has purchased more than 125 buildings in Washington Heights, Inwood, Harlem and Queens since 2006.
It set quotas for each building to determine how many residents they needed to oust in order to increase profits, the statement said.
“Vantage has made it their business to harass residents right in their homes," Assemblyman Adriano Espaillat said in the statement. "But today’s action brings the fight to Vantage’s own front door."
The lawsuit, however, could mean Cuomo's biting a hand that feeds him.
Twenty percent of campaign contributions to Cuomo over the past six months came from the real estate industry, a New York Times analysis showed.
For their part, Vantage is refuting Cuomo's claims.
"Vantage is genuinely committed to serving its residents and to the future of affordable housing in New York City," a spokesperson for the company said. "We look forward to demonstrating this to the Attorney General."