Attorney General James Takes Action to Provide Syracuse Tenants with Safe, Livable Housing

OAG Investigation Finds Green National Repeatedly Ignored State
and Local Housing Code Requirements, Creating Unsafe Living Conditions 

Green National Required to Correct All Outstanding Code Violations at its
NYS Properties and Maintain Full-Time Security at Skyline Apartments 

NEW YORK – New York Attorney General Letitia James today announced an agreement with Greenland Property Services, LLC, and its related entities (Green National), a real estate management company with several affordable housing properties in Syracuse, requiring them to address all its housing code violations within 60 days. An investigation by the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) confirmed evidence of unsanitary conditions, criminal activity, and repeated code violations at Green National’s Syracuse-area properties. Under the agreement, Green National will pay a $300,000 penalty, of which all but $50,000 will be suspended if all terms of the agreement are fulfilled within 60 days.

“Today, we’re putting Green National on notice: Immediately address the uninhabitable living conditions in your buildings, or face the full force of my office and the law,” said Attorney General James. “New Yorkers have the right to livable, safe homes, and landlords have an obligation to provide them. My office will continue to hold landlords accountable for shirking their responsibilities at the expense of New York families.”

Green National has owned and managed more than 1,000 apartments in buildings throughout the Syracuse area. The tenants in these buildings are mostly people who earn modest or fixed incomes, people with health challenges, people receiving aid from government programs, and the elderly. The OAG started its investigation into Green National in March 2021 in response to reports of rampant crime, unsafe conditions, and unabated code violations at some of their Syracuse area properties, including but not limited to the Skyline Apartments, the Vincent Apartments, and the James Apartments. 

At the Skyline Apartments, tenants reported human waste and drug paraphernalia in the hallways, broken elevators, and inadequate security. Due to these conditions, the city of Syracuse declared the common areas of Skyline unfit for human occupancy. The elevators in the 12-story building, which has many elderly and disabled residents, have been frequently out-of-service. Security had been lax at the entryways, and non-residents frequently entered the building without authorization to purchase, use, and sell drugs. A 93-year-old woman was murdered in her apartment last year by a non-resident and another woman was shot in the building last month. 

At the Vincent Apartments, an eight-building apartment complex also located in Syracuse, there were 149 code violations that were past deadline. Some of the violations included broken doors, missing and/or inoperable smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors, roach infestations, and plumbing leaks.

At the James Apartments, tenants expressed persistent safety and health concerns. Residents said there was poor security and often found homeless people in the halls and human waste in the hallways and in washing machines. Residents also raised concerns about bedbugs, roaches, broken elevators, broken locks, and the lack of adequate heat.

Under the terms of Attorney General James’ agreement, Green National must correct all the outstanding code violations within 60 days. At the Skyline Apartments, Green National must continue to abide by the terms of the City’s Abatement Order and maintain “no loitering” signs in conspicuous locations outside the building, proactively monitor all activity on the premises through full-time roving security patrols, secure all the residential doors, and employ a full-time, around-the-clock security employee at the front desk by the main entrance. Green National must respond to all tenant’s requests for repairs and keep a written record. Green National must also pay $300,000 in costs and penalties, of which $250,000 can be suspended if all terms of the agreement and all code violations have been met within 60 days. The other $50,000 will be paid effective immediately to the state.

Additionally, prior to the sale of any of its New York properties, Green National must either correct all open code violations or include in any contract of sale a provision that requires the new owners to fix outstanding code violations. Within 14 days of selling any of its properties, the company must notify the OAG of the sale. Additionally, if Green National purchases any additional property in New York within the next five years it must notify the OAG.

“Tenants of any property deserve clean and safe housing, and it’s important that landlords are held accountable for the condition of their properties,” said Onondaga County Executive J. Ryan McMahon McMahon. “Thanks to the work of Attorney General James and Mayor Walsh, that accountability is taking place and should serve as a sign to other landlords that these types of conditions will not be tolerated.” 

“The city of Syracuse is applying pressure from every direction to hold Green National accountable for providing its residents with safe and quality living conditions. When we asked Attorney General James to assist, her office responded with additional authority and resources to help us address all of the company’s properties in Syracuse,” Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh. “Instead of the city being forced to pursue individual violations through repeated inspections, fines, and, ultimately, the courts, the attorney general has structured a penalty that puts all the accountability for its properties where it belongs: Green National. The city appreciates the partnership of Attorney General James and will continue to work with her office to confirm the company does right by its tenants.” 

“The Skyline Apartments have been a blight on our city for years, and I welcome Attorney General James’ successful work to reach a settlement with Green National,” said State Senator Rachel May. “At a time when rental housing is becoming increasingly scarce, we need this property to be in better shape and under responsible management. I hope this resolution brings relief to the tenants and turns the Skyline from a liability into an asset for our community.”

“I supported legislation that enacted stricter fines for repeat code violators when they fail to correct dangerous conditions,” said State Senator John Mannion. “The well-documented health and safety violations at its affordable housing properties are unacceptable in our city. I’m grateful Attorney General James stepped in to hold the company accountable and deliver results for residents.”

“I applaud the actions taken by Attorney General James. For far too long, inattentive or absent landlords have neglected their properties putting the health and safety of their tenants at risk,” said Assemblymember Pamela Hunter. “Affordable housing does not equate to substandard, unsafe living conditions. I am hopeful today's announcement puts other neglectful property owners on notice.”

“I remember delivering papers with my brother to the Skyline Apartments as a kid,” said Assemblymember Bill Magnarelli. “At the time it was a popular place to live, even a Hollywood celebrity had his mother living there. With Attorney General James’ help, I look forward to the Skyline Apartments again being a safe and well-respected place to live.”

“Syracuse residents deserve safe living conditions and for too long the residents of Skyline Apartment have been forced to endure unacceptable code violations,” said Syracuse Common Councilor Mike Greene. “I am grateful to Attorney General James for her work to hold Green National accountable for their actions.”

“As a city councilor concerned with the issues associated with the blatant mismanagement of the Skyline and Green National, I applaud Attorney General James’ aggressive actions to ensure the safety of our neighborhoods,” said Syracuse Common Councilor Pat Hogan.

“Lack of affordable housing choices is not a reason for inadequate living conditions in any community,” said Syracuse Common Councilor Chol Majok. “Thank you, Attorney General James, for holding bad landlords accountable.”

“The deplorable situation at the Skyline has gone on long enough,” said Andrea Wandersee, executive director, Northeast Hawley Development Association. “We are relieved that Attorney General James has escalated the consequences for Greenland if they do not meet their responsibility to their tenants and to our community. These apartments are people’s homes, and Greenland must be held accountable for maintaining a safe environment.”

“CNY Fair Housing has worked for several years to advocate for improved conditions at Skyline, particularly around issues of accessibility,” said Sally Santangelo, executive director, CNY Fair Housing. “We are glad to see this important action by Attorney General James to hold Green National accountable for the conditions at their properties, and hope it sends a message to landlords that they can't ignore the law and put their tenants at risk.”

This matter was handled by Assistant Attorney General Judith C. Malkin of the Syracuse Regional Office with assistance from Investigator Andrea Buttenschon. The Syracuse Regional Office is led by Assistant Attorney General in Charge Ed Thompson and is a part of the Division of Regional Affairs, which is led by Deputy Attorney General for Regional Affairs Jill Faber and is overseen by First Deputy Attorney General Jennifer Levy.