Crown Heights townhouse seized from slumlords available for $678K through lottery

Photos courtesy of NYC Housing Preservation and Development

A Crown Heights townhouse owned by an infamous slumlord duo and seized by the city is for sale. The home at 1214 Dean Street was turned over in 2022 after a $2.25 million settlement between the city and the previous owners, who tried to illegally evict tenants during the pandemic and ran an illegal hotel. Following a restoration, the property is now accepting applications as part of the city’s affordable housing lottery system. First-time homebuyers with at least a four-person household earning 110 percent of the area median income can apply to buy the home, which is listed at $678,000.

Located between Nostrand and New York Avenues, the Dean Street property includes a four-bedroom, two-and-a-half owner’s unit and a rent-stabilized one-bedroom rental in the basement. As The City reported, the Department of Housing Preservation and Development sold the house for $1 to nonprofit group Neighborhood Restore, which renovated the property extensively.

During the renovation, Neighborhood Restore carefully maintained the home’s historic details, including its eight ornamental marble fireplaces, original woodwork on the staircase, doorways and entryway, and functional pocket doors. Other perks include a private backyard, a washer and dryer hook-up, and energy-efficient stainless steel appliances.

Salvatore D’Avola, executive director of Neighborhood Restore, told The City the apartment will bring in income to the future owner.

“The person who is going to buy the whole house and then they’re going to have a rental unit and the rental unit is going to help them pay the mortgage,” D’Avola told the website.

Prospective owners must make the property their primary residence. Requirements include a down payment of 5 percent, approximately $34,000, and an asset limit of $281,000.

To provide further clarity on the application process, Neighborhood Restore is hosting a virtual informational session on March 5 at 6 p.m. More information about the event can be found here.

In February 2022, Mayor Eric Adams and New York Attorney General Letitia James announced a $2.25 million settlement against landlords Gennaro Brooks-Church and Loretta Gendville. They were accused of illegally evicting tenants from the Crown Heights townhouse during the pandemic, in violation of the state’s eviction moratorium. The duo, who acquired the nicknames “eco-yogi slumlords,” reportedly ran an illegal hotel operation for several years.

The illegal renting activities, which began in January 2016 and continued through at least the summer of 2020, generated $1.4 million in revenue. Through 83 different listings on Airbnb, they deceived nearly 5,600 guests and prevented 14 homes across nine buildings in Brooklyn from housing permanent tenants.

The settlement marked the largest monetary award from a case against an illegal short-term rental operator. It also signifies the city’s first-ever enforcement of its “Unlawful Eviction Law.” The settlement required the landlords to pay $250,000 in fines to the city and state and agree to not conduct future illegal short-term rental activity anywhere else in the city. Former tenants received substantial recovery funds from the city for the damages and trauma they endured.

More information on the housing lottery can be found here.


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