New York Attorney General Letitia James today announced a lawsuit against Balsamo, Rosenblatt & Hall, P.C., A. Balsamo & Rosenblatt, P.C. (Balsamo), and its partners Robert Rosenblatt and Edward Hall for engaging in deceptive rent collection practices and initiating frivolous lawsuits against New York tenants. Following an investigation, the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) found that Balsamo, a Brooklyn-based real estate law firm retained largely by landlords, did not conduct any meaningful reviews of their non-payment eviction cases before filing litigation, resulting in the distribution of deceptive rent collection letters, unnecessary legal actions against tenants, and improper evictions without cause. In addition to penalties, Attorney General James seeks to stop Balsamo from all deceitful rent collection practices, suspend all unjustified cases against tenants, and return all the profits they have received from the unjustified cases.
“In failing to fulfill their basic responsibility, Balsamo caused untold trauma, stress, and financial hardship to New York tenants throughout the city,” said Attorney General James. “With each housing case, there is far too much at stake for lawyers to cut corners. We are talking about people’s ability to have a roof over their head — a right that Balsamo unjustly denied New Yorkers. This lawsuit is the first step in righting the wrongs done by unscrupulous landlords and their lawyers and reversing the negative impacts of their negligence on our communities. My office will continue to protect tenants and root out those that seek to unfairly threaten New Yorkers.”
The OAG launched an investigation into Balsamo in July 2020 following a complaint by a tenant who was wrongfully sued when Balsamo failed to take any steps to assess the case. The OAG found that it is Balsamo’s practice not to review crucial documents in the cases — such as leases or deeds — before issuing rent collection notices or commencing litigation, forcing New York tenants to defend frivolous lawsuits and leading to some tenants being improperly evicted. The OAG identified several instances of eviction throughout its investigation, including the case of Arturo Solis, who was improperly evicted twice due to Balsamo’s actions. Solis was first evicted in July 2017 after the law firm failed to thoroughly review any documents to support the legal conclusions in the petition, and as a result, named the wrong landlord in the court papers. While Solis’ first eviction was reversed, Balsamo improperly evicted Solis again in a new lawsuit in March 2018 after they failed to review and consider relevant documents that would have showed that the landlord had no right to collect rent or evict Solis.
Attorney General James maintains that Balsamo’s housing court practice violates New York Executive Law, the Federal Debt Collection Practices Act, and the New York General Business Law.
In the suit, filed in Kings County Supreme Court, Attorney General James seeks to stop Balsamo’s illegal and unfair conduct, and force them to assess and discontinue all unjust cases or amend petitions to reflect actual amounts owed. The lawsuit also asks the court to order disgorgement of all profits that Balsamo has realized from litigating the frivolous cases and order them to pay fines and penalties in an amount to be determined by the court.
This matter is being handled by OAG’s Housing Protection Unit and is led by Assistant Attorney General Sherief Gaber, former Assistant Attorney General Ashwani Prabhakar, and Housing Protection Unit Chief Brent Meltzer. Additional assistance was provided by Senior Data Analyst Akram Hasanov, former Senior Data Analyst Chris Nelson, and Data analyst Casey Marescot, under the supervision of Deputy Director Megan Thorsfeldt and Director Jonathan Werberg of the Research and Analytics Department. The Housing Protection Unit is a part of the Division for Social Justice, which is led by Chief Deputy Attorney General Meghan Faux and all under the oversight of First Deputy Attorney General Jennifer Levy.
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