The Two Trees Management-owned building at 125 Court Street in Downtown Brooklyn is under scrutiny yet again, ProPublica reported (h/t TRD). City Councilman Stephen Levin and State Assemblywoman Joanne Simon have called on the state's Tenant Protection Unit to investigate whether developers overcharged tenants at the building despite receiving a tax abatement on the property.
Two Trees received over $10 million in tax breaks under the 421-a program. As a result the developer was required to provide rent-stabilized apartments at the building, but a ProPublica investigation from late last year revealed that tenants were overcharged by $368,000.
Two Trees admitted to the error, according to ProPublica, and paid back tenants $300,000 in overcharged rent.
However despite this issue, the tax abatement program for the building stayed in place. The rent stabilization laws require developers to follow the limits for allowable increases set by the city. But ProPublica's investigation alleges that "tenants at 125 Court Street saw increases that were double and triple the allowed amounts." (Two Trees has denied this allegation). Under the law, tenants can be paid up to three time that amount in damages, if that law has been violated, according to a letter written by Levin and Simon addressed to the Department of Housing and Community Renewal.
For its part, Two Trees issued the following statement to ProPublica:
We take our obligations to our tenants extremely seriously, and as we said previously, this was an isolated incident where we identified and corrected mistakes made years ago.