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Kushner Companies investigation: City Council looking into allegations of false info on documents

A nonprofit claims the firm flouted city code to deregulate rent-stabilized apartments.

The City Council is investigating Kushner Companies, which

The City Council is investigating Kushner Companies, which owns 120 E. 4th St., pictured, in Manhattan. Photo Credit: Linda Rosier

City Councilman Ritchie Torres announced Monday that his office will investigate Jared Kushner’s real estate company for allegedly flouting the city code and harassing rent-stabilized tenants in nearly 35 buildings.

Torres, who chairs the Council’s Oversight and Investigations Committee, said data culled by a nonprofit watchdog group suggested that Kushner Companies allegedly included false information on building permits over a three-year period. According to the group, Housing Rights Initiative, paperwork for renovations at 34 buildings falsely indicated that the properties contained no rent-stabilized units, which led to the apartments in question being deregulated.

“The Kushners appear to be engaging in what I call the weaponization of construction,” Torres said at a news conference outside the company’s 52nd Street office.

Aaron Carr, founder of the Housing Rights Initiative, said the nonprofit began to investigate city records related to Kushner properties while researching prior tenant harassment allegations for lawsuits filed against the company.

Under city law, landlords must tell the Department of Buildings if there are any rent-stabilized units on the property before starting any construction work. This allows the city to examine that the units are being properly administered.

Of 80 construction applications the company filed between 2013 and 2016, none noted that the buildings had rent-stabilized units, even though they collectively contained hundreds of such apartments, Carr said.

“As we dug deeper, we found new things with these permits,” Carr said.

He highlighted the case of three Queens buildings purchased by the Kushner Companies in 2015, which promptly lost their rent-stabilized units and were then sold in 2017 for more than 50 percent of their purchase prices.

A spokeswoman for Kushner Companies denied that it intentionally falsified Department of Buildings filings.

“Kushner Companies values all of our tenants and takes our legal and ethical responsibilities very seriously,” the company said in a statement. “If mistakes or typographical errors are identified, corrective action is taken immediately with no financial benefit to the company.”

Torres said the City Council will thoroughly investigate the alleged Department of Buildings violations and will push the agency to strengthen its application oversight. A department spokesman did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

City Council Speaker Corey Johnson said he backed Torres’s investigation.

“These allegations are particularly disturbing given the city’s affordability crisis,” Johnson said in a statement.

When asked about the allegations against Kushner Companies, Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city needs to get to the bottom of the accusations.

“If it proves to be true that they lied to evade regulation, they have a problem on their hands,” de Blasio said. “We have to do a better job of cross checking our information too.”

-with Alison Fox


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