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New DOB measure aims to stop landlords from flouting rent stabilization rules

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A new system will help the DOB double-check the claims of landlords

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A new measure by the Department of Buildings will help the agency keep on top of landlords seeking to illegally remove rent-regulated apartments from the rolls.

Crain’s reports that the DOB has started incorporating a state wide database of rent-regulated apartments into its own information system that will act as a double-check against landlords who file paperwork falsely claiming that a building is empty of rent-regulated tenants, and is therefore ready for construction or demolition.

The measure was unveiled by DOB Commissioner Rick Chandler at a City Council hearing. The goal, Chandler said, is to “prevent owners of rent-regulated buildings from getting construction permits if they submit false statements to the department.” That false paperwork that landlords have filed in the past often comes at the cost of tenant harassment and coercion.

The DOB database comes at the crest of fallout from false claims by Kushner Companies that 34 of its buildings getting overhauls were without rent-regulated tenants. In early December, the Housing Rights Initiative announced the preliminary outcome of a class action lawsuit filed against Kushner Companies in August 2017 on behalf of five former tenants of 89 Hicks Street over the illegal deregulation of rent-stabilized units in the building.

The building, which has more than six units and was built before 1974, was required to be registered as rent-stabilized, but a look into the property found that Kushner Companies, formerly helmed by White House senior advisor Jared Kushner, registered a mere 10 percent of units as rent stabilized and illegally deregulated the remaining units.

Read up on Kushner Companies’ history of tenant lawsuits here.