Cuomo’s Office and Fort Drum create initiative to protect military and civilian tenants from unscrupulous landlords and unfair leasing practices

WATERTOWN, N.Y. (December 21, 2009) - Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that his office has ordered an out-of-state landlord to immediately cease harassing and threatening primarily military tenants over unverified debts. His office is also coordinating an initiative with Fort Drum to protect military and civilian tenants who work at the base from unscrupulous landlords and unfair leases.

Attorney General Cuomo issued a cease-and-desist letter to Peter Hoffman, owner of YNGH, LLC, a rental property owner dealing primarily with military service members and civilians due to its proximity to Fort Drum, ordering immediate compliance with the New York State Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. The Attorney General’s Office learned that Hoffman regularly contacted tenants’ chain of command to tell them that the renters were in default on their agreements and owed him substantial money. Furthermore, Cuomo’s Office found that even in instances where these debts were under dispute by the tenants, Hoffman went ahead and contacted their chain of command anyway.

“Our brave men and women serving in the military should not be distracted or pressured by unscrupulous landlords who don’t follow the law,” said Attorney General Cuomo. “Once my office became aware of a rash of abusive practices regarding leases, we worked with Fort Drum to implement protections for military tenants who find themselves the target of absentee landlords.”

Attorney General Cuomo’s investigation revealed several examples of abusive lease tactics, including requiring soldiers to waive available defenses and counterclaims, and adding unreasonable administrative fees into rent charges.

Attorney General Cuomo’s Office is also coordinating an initiative with Fort Drum to reduce predatory leases and increase transparency in the landlord-tenant relationships. Through this joint effort, landlords catering to military tenants must file all leases with the Fort Drum Housing Office as a precondition to inclusion upon housing lists. This initiative will protect soldiers from abusive lease terms by allowing them to compare leases prior to renting. The program also screens out inequitable leases from the base’s Housing Office.

Information about tenants’ rights can be found online at Consumers who have unresolved complaints with YNGH, Inc. or any other business are urged to contact Attorney General Cuomo’s Regional Office in Watertown at 315-785-2444.

The matter is being handled by Assistant Attorney General-In-Charge of the Watertown Regional Office, Deanna R. Nelson, with assistance by Senior Consumer Frauds Representative Carol Lively, Consumer Representative Sonya VanVechten and Investigator Chad Shelmidine.