Finding a new place to live in is quite a task in itself, but for some people, the struggle doesn't end there. There are landlords who create such a toxic environment, their tenants' everyday life becomes a neverending misery. From installing secret surveillance cameras to ignoring ceiling leaks, these greedy bastards are full of dirty tricks.
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However, even the worst landlords have to try real hard to come close to Steven Croman. He spent decades flipping rent-controlled Manhattan apartment buildings, buying them cheap and having his employees remove the apartment's occupants. Croman's employees referred to the tenants as 'targets,' and were competing to push out the most as they would receive a bonus for each tenant they forced out.
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When the 'targets' refused to move, Croman enforced harassment. He turned their buildings into dangerous construction sites, refused to make repairs, and cut off heat, electricity, and hot water. If that wasn't enough, he ordered his companies to file baseless lawsuits against the residents. One tenant, for example, was brought to court 11 times, even though she was not behind on the rent; another tenant racked up $240,000 in legal fees.
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If tenants continued living in the apartments, Croman would call Anthony Falconite. The retired police officer would pose as a repairman, a building manage or an inspector to get into people’s homes. Once inside, he would come up with an accusations, telling tenants they were occupying the units illegally. Falconite would demand their IDs, and take their photos without permission.
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After his tenants were gone, Croman ignored construction laws and performed work without permits more than on 175 occasions. Eventually, Croman’s shady methods drew the attention of officials, and he was charged with grand larceny and tax fraud. In 2017, he pleaded guilty and was ordered to pay a $5 million tax settlement and $8 million to his former tenants. He was also sentenced to one year in jail.
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