Growing concerns over real estate fraud in Brooklyn

Tonya Ores, executive director NHS Brooklyn, after town hall meeting.
NHS Brooklyn

As real estate prices rise, many homeowners in Brooklyn are feeling the heat, as real estate fraud, intense harassment of homeowners to sell their homes and over development in which multi-story buildings are beside one-family houses have also increased to alarming levels.

These circumstances have spurred community groups — including Neighborhood Housing Services of Brooklyn (NHS Brooklyn), Community Board 17 (CB 17), University Settlement — and elected officials, such as State Senator Kevin Parker, and Assembly Members N. Nick Perry and Diana Richardson, to host a townhall meeting on Saturday to address these burning issues.

At Saturday’s event — held at the Middle School for Media, Law & Fine Arts, 905 Winthrop St. — homeowners had the opportunity to meet representatives to discuss foreclosure assistance, property taxes, fraud, property violations and other housing challenges, according to Tyrone McDonald, government and community relations manager, NHS Brooklyn.

“New York is a judicial state. You have the ability to reach an agreement with the court and the lender before your home is foreclosed,” said Angella Davidson, program director for Foreclosure for NHS Brooklyn, during the panel discussion.

Other panelists included Benjamin Colombo, NYC Dept. of Buildings; Allyson Martinez, chair of Community Board 17’s Land Use Committee; Karen White, the Office of the Attorney General; Jennifer Browne, of NYC Dept. of Finance; and Richard Farrell, assistant district attorney for the Real Estate Fraud Unit of Brooklyn.

“Developers rely on bully tactics to force homeowners to give up their rights,” Martinez said. “You don’t have to give in to that. I would also recommend that homeowners get an engineer’s report and land survey when a developer begins work next to you.”

Martinez also encouraged homeowners and other residents to contact Community Board 17 for legal referrals if a developer wants to build next door.

Moreover, Community Board 17 urged residents to sign a petition calling for the board to become a “cease and desist zone,” where homeowners can join a no-call list for solicitations from real estate agents, developers and investors. The petition eventually will be given to local elected officials in Community Board 17.

McDonald said NHS Brooklyn plans to host additional townhalls, in Community Board 8, 9 and 13 in the Coney Island area, bringing the message of community preservation; and encouraging homeowners to be informed and exercise their rights.

“Maintaining general wealth in our community should be our top priority now more than ever,” said Gary Campbell, board member of NHS Brooklyn and moderator of the panel discussion, along with CB 17 member and resident Trisha Ocona.

If you have been approached by a developer to sell and need advice, call Community Board 17 at 718-434-3801.

If you feel you have been a victim of real estate fraud call the Action Center of the District Attorney at 718-250-2340.

To report real estate fraud, also call the Attorney General at 800-771-7755.

Richard Farrell, asst. district attorney Real Estate Fraud Unit, Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office, addresses town hall meeting. Panelists sitting, left to right: Angella Davidson, Allyson Martinez, Benjamin Colombo, Karen White and Jennifer Browne.
NHS Brooklyn

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