Late last month, news emerged that the city’s Department of Buildings had hit Kushner Companies with $210,000 in fines for falsifying construction permits. Earlier this week, an investigation by the Associated Press revealed that Kushner Companies actually owed the city over $500,000 in fines due to previous infractions. And they’re not the only ones.
Crain’s is now reporting that the city was owed a staggering $1.5 billion in fines as of October last year, based on a Department of Finance report. While these fines concern a variety of issues, over 90 percent of them are against property owners, according to the housing watchdog group, Housing Rights Initiative.
Crain’s says that a large part of the problem is that property owners treat fines as being part of the overall business operation; an existing statute of limitations means that the city can’t collect fines after eight years. Furthermore, the fines are often tied to a variety of LLCs, and as time goes on, many of these companies shutter, making it harder for the city to collect the fines.
However groups like the Housing Rights Initiative say the city can and should do more.
“If the city were as good at collecting real estate violations as they are at collecting real estate donations, hundreds of millions of dollars would fall from the sky,” said Aaron Carr, the founder and executive director of the Housing Rights Initiative, in a statement.