The Department of Buildings has hit Kushner Companies with a $210,000 fine for falsifying information on construction permits, according to the New York Times. The move comes after multiple reports of the firm misrepresenting the status of rent-regulated units in several of its apartment buildings, in order to illegally perform construction work. The DOB cited 42 different violations across 17 buildings in Manhattan and Brooklyn.
Those buildings include five—89 Hicks Street, 18 Sidney Place (both in Brooklyn Heights), 331 East Ninth Street, and 170 and 174 East 2nd Street—where tenants have either highly publicized alleged tenant harassment, or brought legal action against Kushner Companies. The violations cited by the DOB are related to permits spanning a period of 2013 to 2016.
Multiple investigations (by the Housing Rights Initiative, among others) have found that Kushner Companies skirted New York’s rent-stabilization rules at these buildings (either by falsifying permits or not registering regulated apartments with the state), thereby making it easier to make renovations and take units out of rent regulation.
In a statement provided to Curbed, a spokesperson for the DOB said that “Protecting tenants is a key part of our mission to make construction safe for all New Yorkers, and we are determined to hold landlords accountable for the accuracy of their applications—no matter who they are.”
Kushner Companies told the Times that “paperwork errors” are to blame for the false permits, and that “[i]n no case did the company act in disregard of the safety of our tenants.”
Just yesterday, HRI unveiled its latest investigation, which found that President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, engaged in similar practices—falsifying construction permits and de-regulating rent-stabilized apartments—at three Manhattan buildings that he had previously owned.