A group of tenants filed a lawsuit against the Parkoff Organization and affiliated entities, alleging that the landlord overcharged rent and illegally deregulated units at four buildings in Manhattan and the Bronx.
The lawsuit is the latest in a string of legal actions over alleged abuse of the J-51 tax incentive program.
According to the complaint, Parkoff, led by principals Richard and Adam Parkoff, charged market rents for apartments at 144 East 22nd Street and 1-9 and 11-19 Seaman Avenue in Manhattan and 500 West 235th Street in the Bronx even though they should be rent stabilized under the J-51 program. The suit also accuses Parkoff of undertaking “erroneous and undocumented” apartment improvements as a ploy to jack up the rent.
The lawsuit began with an investigation by the nonprofit Housing Rights Initiative. Parkoff representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In 2009, a New York court ruled that buildings receiving the J-51 tax abatement are subject to rent regulation. But the ruling has rarely been enforced, ProPublica reported last year. In January of last year, Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered landlords of J-51 buildings to register their apartments for rent stabilization.
“Our affordable housing stock is evaporating, our schools are underfunded, and the MTA is heading off a cliff,” HRI’s Aaron Carr said in a statement Wednesday. “We implore the government to take away tax breaks from tax cheats and fix our city.”
(To view more properties owned by the Parkoff Organization, click here)