A property management company and a number of landlords who own buildings in Chinatown and the Lower East Side are being sued by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman for allegedly harassing their rent stabilized tenants.

According to a press release from the Attorney General's office, property management company Marolda Properties, Inc. and a handful of landlords tried to evict their rent stabilized tenants by taking them to housing court with false claims that they no longer lived in their apartments. The lawsuit against the landlords claims that they relied on false information to prove rent stabilized tenants no longer lived in their apartments, including false claims from their building employees that they hadn't seen tenants in the buildings for long periods of time.

In addition to trying to push out the tenants, many of whom were elderly and didn't speak fluent English, with false claims about their residency status, the defendants allegedly didn't register some of their rent stabilized buildings with the Department of Housing and Community Renewal, as is required by state law. The lawsuit claims the landlords did repairs to buildings that they falsely claimed were vacant, in order to avoid legally required safety plans to protect tenants. The defendants are also alleged to have refused to make necessary repairs to their buildings, including one case where tenants haven't had gas since February.

Marolda Properties has been under investigation by the state's Tenant Protection Unit since 2014, when it was alleged that the company refused to renew rent stabilized leases and tried to evict rent stabilized tenants without cause. Tenant advocates accused Marolda Properties of "papering the buildings" that they owned with lawsuits falsely claiming rent stabilized tenants didn't use their apartments as a primary residence.

Schneiderman's office is using the lawsuit to get "a court order prohibiting defendants from engaging in these kinds of practices in the future, directing them to pay damages and/or restitution to tenants who were harmed, disgorge all profits that resulted from their illegal practices, pay penalties for their illegal conduct, create comprehensive policies for employees to follow and engage a third-party administrator to monitor compliance with the law," according to the press release.