The firm is part of Belfonti Associates, a high-profile developer of Manhattan real estate run by Michael Belfonti, Hamden, Conn. Calls to the firm seeking comment were not returned.
Federal rules require welfare landlords to "screen tenant and visitor behavior'' and disclose troubled business deals, the administrative notice says. If they don't, the Housing Agency can remove them as a landlord eligible to receive rent payments directly from the U.S. government under the Section 8 program.
"They certified information to us that is not true,'' said Rufus "Bud" Myers, executive director at the Housing Agency.
In the administrative notice, the agency contends Belfonti failed to disclose legal difficulties involving an Aruba hotel loan and that Connecticut rental apartments had lead paint, and withheld information about the bankruptcy of Northeastern Oaks Limited Partnership in Connecticut. The agency also claims Belfonti failed to disclose all the partners in the purchase of the Phoenix Apartments.
Any of those actions is considered grounds for barring a landlord from the Section 8 program, Myers said.
RCM has until Dec. 14 to respond to the administrative notice. It can repay the money or challenge the order, Myers said.
The agency claims to have a pretty good track record of getting results from landlords against which it takes action. "In recent years, the Housing Agency has taken administrative actions against about 55 landlords," Myers said. "Of those, half have returned the federal welfare rent payments, a quarter have been prosecuted for criminal acts and the remainder dropped out as welfare landlords." The question is why the agency waited so long to take action against the Phoenix?