NIAGARA FALLS – Attorney General James has put a stop to Nicholas and Sharon George. Together, the Georges own dozens of dilapidated rental properties across Niagara Falls that are in severe disrepair and pose a danger to the health and safety of tenants. Their properties have countless violations and complaints across various government agencies, many of which are still unresolved and remain open. They have agreed to sell their properties to an entity or entities that have an interest in restoring and preserving the apartments and enacting a long-term management plan to properly maintain the residences.
“Tenants have a right to safe housing, and my office will be vigilant in protecting this right,” said Attorney General James. “These residents deserve to have these properties revitalized and rehabilitated instead of lining the pockets of those who allowed them to fall apart. Today is a victory for tenants, and we will continue to monitor this agreement.”
Over the course of several decades, the respondents failed to employ proper building maintenance staff and instead, relied on certain unqualified tenants to volunteer their time. Consequently, countless violations became the subject of numerous complaints to the city of Niagara Falls Department of Code Enforcements and the Department of Health, among other government agencies. The complaints the government received included, but were not limited to, reports about defective smoke and fire alarms, non-working plumbing, lack of electricity and heating, and vermin infestation.
The case was referred to the Office of the Attorney General by Neighborhood Legal Services.
“I can confidently say that the lives of many tenants challenged by poverty in Niagara County will be markedly improved by this settlement,” said Matthew Finamore, staff attorney, Neighborhood Legal Services. “Thanks to Attorney General James and her office for their tireless work to obtain this important result. Neighborhood Legal Services remains committed to continuing to fight for quality housing conditions for all New Yorkers, and we are honored to stand with Attorney General James in furtherance of this goal.”
The sale must be completed by November 1, 2021 and may only be extended with the written consent of the Office of the Attorney General. During this time, Mr. and Mrs. George are not allowed to evict any tenants from the properties due to the terms of this agreement or as part of the sale process.
Funds from the sale of the Georges property will not go to Mr. and Mrs. George. Instead, the proceeds of the sales will be held in an escrow account. The buyer of the properties will have access to the funds in order to make the repairs necessary to restore the properties to safe, habitable conditions so that the existing tenants, and those who rent in the future, can live in a safe and healthy environment.
If Mr. and Mrs. George do not complete the terms of the agreement, they are required to pay the state of New York $50,000 in penalties, immediately.
Across the state Attorney General James has stood up, time and time again, for tenants who face harassment. Just recently, the Office of the Attorney General unveiled the Tenant Legal Assistance Program and renewed the Homeowner Protection Program, both of which help tenants exercise their right to safety and peace in their homes.
This matter was handled by Assistant Attorney General Christopher L. Boyd, under the supervision of Assistant Attorney General-in-Charge of the Buffalo Regional Office Michael Russo, with assistance from Investigator Erica Law. The division of Regional Affairs is led by Deputy Attorney General for Regional Affairs Jill Faber and is overseen by First Deputy Attorney General Jennifer Levy.
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