In a recent article, developer and landlord Richard LeFrak is officially New York City’s largest real estate mogul, with an estimated personal fortune of more than $49 billion.
Lefrak owns LeFrak City in Queens, (built in the 1960s), an architectural relic of the times, Lefrak City was designed as a classic "tower in the park" which was a popular model for public housing projects in the 60’s. As it turned out this dinosaur of an architectural proved to be beleaguered with problems, like the isolation of tenants from food and transit and poor construction quality.
The Lefrak real estate empire consist of Lefrak City in Queens and more than 16 million square feet of commercial, residential, and retail properties in Newport, New Jersey and the 1,712 unit Gateway Plaza in Battery Park City.
Lefrak has become known for tough eviction practices and there are critics who believe that his management companies at Lefrak lie in wait after elderly tenants pass away, or move to nursing homes in an effort to sidestep family member’s succession rights. These critics say that family members are allowed to continue leasing in some cases for many years, until such time as the management company believes it can beat the tenant in Court I an eviction proceeding.
Tenant’s in Lefrak complain that management drags out the process of changing the name on the lease for years, only to later use that delay against the tenant to eliminate their succession rights.
Unfortunately, the low income tenant’s are no match for the billionaire’s phalanx of high powered attorneys. The usually tenant friendly housing Court in Queens, New York buckles when Lefrak attorneys throw their weight around, and seemingly entitled immediate family members are tossed into the streets by the billionaire on technicalities used against them.
Recently, Lefrak has begun issuing new lease and renewal notices at Battery Park City which a institutes a $250 annual pet fee, bans more than a dozen breeds of dogs, places a prohibition on dogs that weigh more than 40 pounds, limits tenants to 2 pets per apartment and requires that cats be declawed.
Critics say that this yet another ploy by Lefrak to get around the city’s rent control laws and institute lease conditions that will allow his attorneys to turn out low income tenants on more technicalities.
The pet owners at the Battery Park City complex are up in arms and plan to fight back against what they call unenforceable rules. The pet owners association at the complex has already gained concessions including a grandfathering of pets already in the complex.