Property Grunt

Friday, August 19, 2005

Landlord bum rush

I found this on Gothamist.

This retired Asian person, who paid $158 for a two bed on 172 East 89th street, found himself without a home when he came back from a trip. His locks were changed and all of his belongings were tossed out. All of this was done illegally.

The apartments in that building fetch up $1500 so it is understandable why the owner, Dominick Galfaro wanted the guy out. But the way you do this is you buy them out. It is a pain the ass to do but you figure out what the tenant's price is and hopefully they agree to it.

But this landlord did everything wrong.

According to the NYDaily News

When he complained to Galofaro, the landlord told him he had taken over the apartment, said Eng's son, Peter. "The defendant approached the victim, grabbed him by the hand, and forced him down the stairs and out of the building," said Barbara Thompson, spokeswoman for the Manhattan district attorney's office.

Mr. Galofaro's motivation for his actions was no doubt motivated by money. In this market, he obviously paid an arm and a leg for this building and needed to squeeze every penny he could for the mortgage.

He probably figured he could take the heat from the city and that his lawyers would take care of the flack.

Galofaro figured that any trouble would be minute because:

a) Mr. Eng was a Chinese immigrant and Mr. Galofaro assumed he would not have the resources to protect himself.

b) Any litigation would take years to resolve and being that Mr. Eng was a senior citizen it would just be a waiting game until Mr. Eng croaked.

What Mr. Galofaro has done is atrocious. However, this probably happens more often then we know.

Make no mistake. The Grunt is a capitalist and is all about the Benjamins. That is why the Grunt is in real estate. But there are rules that need to be followed in this business. Mr. Galofaro committed a grievous act against a tenant that was over the line. If Mr. Galofaro did not have the money to take care of this tenant then he should have never bought the building. Or he should have made the efforts to negotiate a deal with the tenant or have the seller persuade the tenant to leave.

The city population displaced by high real estate prices is already seething with rage and is really pissed about this situation. Mr. Galofaro has made himself a lightning rod for their anger and resentment.

Owning, managing and developing your own properties is hard enough as it is. When you take actions like Mr. Galofaro you are just making it harder on yourself. Not only is Mr. Galofaro need to contend with the judicial system but I am sure HPD will be taking a very close look at him.

Because of the heinous and public nature of this crime, I wouldn't be surprised if he is looking at jail time and I am sure Mr. Eng has some of the best lawyers by his side who are out for blood. I don't expect a settlement. I think Mr. Eng is going to go all out until he has his pound of flesh.