BY JON CRONIN
Through a multi-organizational effort, state law and housing institutions are cracking down on landlords receiving tax breaks for providing rent-regulated apartments to residents of western Queens, but not passing on the benefits to those residents.
The Office of the New York Attorney General, the Tenant Protection Unit of the New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal and the City of New York Department of Housing Preservation and Development sent out a letter to the landlords on Aug. 25 advising them that they are aware of them being in non-compliance with the regulations of the tax benefit.
These landlords were receiving tax breaks under 421-a benefits because they registered their properties as rent regulated.
In the letter to the landlords, Schneiderman warned that the application must be filled out correctly or the tax breaks may be revoked, TPU may freeze rents at the locations and may “initiate overcharge proceedings” for overcharging on the rent. “If you are found to have engaged in such behavior you may be subject to treble damages,” Schneiderman wrote.
NYCHA is not yet releasing the names of the landlords or making the residents aware that their landlords have been contacted.
They also could not speak to why or how they came about the information that the landlords were not in compliance, but in their notice NYAG office wrote, “The notices were sent to building owners where 421-a paperwork was previously filed with the Attorney General’s Real Estate Finance Bureau and HPD indicating that the buildings would become condominiums, thus exempting them from having to register their units as rent regulated. In the aftermath of the market crash of 2008, rather than sell the units as condos as represented, these building owners rented them at market rents without registering them as rent regulated, as required by the law.”
Most affected are Community Board 1, 4, 7, 8, 9, and 12.
Councilman Costa Constantinides (D-Astoria), whose district overlays some of the areas where the landlords in question own property and a member of the Council’s Affordable Housing Task Force said, “This investigation underscores our city’s current affordable housing crisis. It is unconscionable for developers to take advantage of available tax exemptions like 421-a, while keeping much-needed affordable rents from residents.
State Senator Toby Stavisky (D-Flushing), whose district also overlays some of the buildings whose landlords are under investigation, said, “It doesn’t matter if its one unit or 100. If they received the abatement they must comply.”
Reach Reporter Jon Cronin at (718) 357-7400 x125, firstname.lastname@example.org or @JonathanSCronin