Okay, actually you will. (Donald Trump only has one married daughter, after all).
The Housing Rights Initiative is suing Kushner Companies (of which Jared was CEO until he left for Washington) for flagrantly violating New York rent regulation laws. The suit, on behalf of nine tenants, claims that a Brooklyn Heights building, 89 Hicks Street, should have been under rent regulation after the Jehovah’s Witnesses sold it to Kushner.
How does rent regulation work?
In New York, buildings with six or more apartments built before 1974 or new buildings that get certain tax breaks fall under rent regulation. Under rent regulation, the maximum rent for an apartment can increase no more than a certain percent every year, based on inflation, improvements to the building or apartment, as well as other costs. That can keep rents significantly below market rates.
So what happened?
Under rent regulations, landlords cannot charge more than the legal limit and must notify the state Division of Housing and Community Renewal of the rent amount.
Kushner Companies did not do so, significantly increasing the costs to tenants. For instance, a one-bedroom apartment in the building might have a legal rent of $1,100 a month, according to the Housing Rights Initiative. Instead, the Kushner Companies charged $2,500 per month, an overcharge of nearly $17,000 over the course of a year.
All of this occurred while Jared Kushner was CEO of the company.
This isn’t an isolated incident
The Housing Rights Initiative was created because tenant harassment and illegal deregulation are increasingly widespread in New York City. This is especially true in gentrifying neighborhoods like East Harlem and parts of Brooklyn, as we reported just last week.
According to one report by Make the Road New York, as many as 64% of rent regulated apartments have either inflated rents or gaps in their registration. Those gaps are closely linked to illegal rent increases. However, despite the rules in place for registration with the Division of Housing and Community Renewal, they do not proactively enforce registration rules or pursue illegal rent increases.
Much of the lax enforcement of rent laws is likely political. Landlords have long backed Republicans in the State Senate, especially through the Rent Stabilization Association. In exchange, those Senate Republicans have blocked attempts by New York City Democrats to strengthen rent regulations and close loopholes.
Even in that landscape of landlords regularly attempting to increase rents, regardless of the law, Kushner’s actions were exceptional. As Aaron Carr, executive director of the Housing Rights Initiative, put it: “I’ve investigated hundreds of buildings, but never seen a scheme as egregious and systematic as this one.”