From AP News:
A New York City council member launched an investigation Monday into the Kushner Cos.′ routine filing of paperwork falsely claiming zero rent-regulated tenants in its buildings, saying that the deception should have been uncovered long ago because the documents are online for all to see.
Councilman Ritchie Torres said the city’s buildings department should have spotted the wrong numbers because they were contradicted by tax documents filed with another city agency.
“The scandal is not only the deception of Kushner Cos., the scandal is the dysfunction of the city bureaucracy,” said Torres, chair of the city council’s investigations committee. “The right hand of city government didn’t know what the left hand was doing.”
The Associated Press reported Sunday that a tenants’ rights watchdog found that the Kushner Cos. had filed more than 80 construction permit applications for 34 buildings across the city between 2013 and 2016 stating it had no rent-regulated tenants. But tax documents showed more than 300 rent-regulated units.
Asked about the Kushner Cos. documents Monday, Mayor Bill de Blasio said that “if it proves to be true that they lied to evade regulation, they have a problem on their hands.”
The false documents allowed the Kushner Cos. to escape extra scrutiny during construction projects, when the family real estate developer was run by Jared Kushner, who is now senior adviser to his father-in-law, President Donald Trump. Housing Rights Initiative, a watchdog group, said the false documents made it easier for the Kushner Cos. to harass rent-regulated tenants so that it could push out low-paying tenants and replace them with higher paying ones.
Current and former tenants of three buildings in Queens once owned by the Kushner Cos. told the AP that they were subjected to extensive construction, with banging, drilling, dust and leaking water that they believe were part of targeted harassment to get them to leave.
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