BRONX, N.Y. (PIX11) – A Bronx landlord has been hit with a lawsuit alleging he and his business operator ran an illegal scheme to evade rent stabilization laws that preyed on low-income residents.
The Legal Aid Society’s Housing Unit Group slapped Ved Parkash and Luis Bello with temporary restraining orders and lawsuits in June. The lawsuit alleges Parkash, Bello, and other associates harassed tenants of his building to maximize profits and prevent tenants from asserting their rights.
“Our clients are vulnerable New Yorkers, many of whom have serious health issues, who were deceived and subjected to the most egregious forms of harassment and manipulation by these landlords,” said Jeanne Schoenfelder, staff attorney with The Legal Aid Society. “We look forward to continuing to fight in court on their behalf.”
The suit also alleges that Bello and his “agents” intimidated and harassed some tenants by destroying their property, making physical and verbal threats, and illegally locking them out of their homes.
In one instance, a family with three young children was locked out of their unit for an entire week, according to The Legal Aid Society. In a separate incident, the lawsuit alleges that a family with two young children was unlawfully evicted from a rent-stabilized apartment, lost all their possessions, and were prevented from returning home even after a judge ordered Bello to allow them to return.
The lawsuit also alleges the men ran “illusory tenancies.” This is when a landlord leases a rent-stabilized apartment to a named tenant who they know does not physically reside in the apartment. The apartment is then leased to subtenants to earn profits above the legally regulated rent, according to the Legal Aid Society.
Under this alleged scheme, Parkash leased rent-stabilized apartments throughout his real estate portfolio of 65 residential buildings in the Bronx to Luis Bello, who then operated a room rental business.
Bello then used his business to locate tenants in need of affordable housing, and leased rooms to them at higher rents than the legally allowed amount, according to the Legal Aid Society.
Parkash and Bello did not respond to PIX11’s request for comment in response to the lawsuit.In 2015, Parkash was deemed one of New York City’s worst landlords by racking up 2,200 open housing violations. He was also named one of the worst evictors during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to The Right to Counsel NYC Coalition.