While Jared Kushner was at the helm, Kushner Companies filed at least 80 work permits in 34 buildings throughout New York stating there were no rent-regulated tenants living at the properties, but tax documents prove the applications were false.
According to the Associated Press, tax records show there were at least 300 rent-regulated units across the 34-property portfolio at the time.
Nonprofit housing watchdog, Housing Rights Initiative, unearthed the 80 false applications for work permits, some of which were signed by Kushner Companies’ chief operating officer, filed between 2013 and 2016, as well as amended forms filed at least a year later that corrected the misreported information.
Tenants interviewed by AP said they were subsequently subjected to targeted harassment as construction began in some of the properties.
The company denied wrongdoing in a statement to AP and said it outsourced the preparation of such documents to third parties with independent counsel reviews.
“Kushner would never deny any tenant their due-process rights,” the company said in a statement. “If mistakes or violations are identified, corrective action is taken immediately.”
The Department of Buildings, under whose purview construction rules and permitting fall, declined to comment on the Kushner findings to the AP, though the DoB did confirm it was beefing up its supervision of construction and had hired 72 new inspectors.
“We won’t tolerate landlords who use construction to harass tenants — no matter who they are,” spokesperson Joseph Soldevere said to AP.
Submitting false documents to the DoB is considered a misdemeanor with potential fines set at a maximum of $25,000, but if amendments are made to correct the false information, experts told AP most landlords are not penalized for the misinformation.
Council member Ritchie Torres, chair of New York’s Committee on Public Housing, plans on launching an investigation into work permit applications.
“The Kushners appear to be engaging in what I call the weaponization of construction,” he told AP.
Jared Kushner, CEO of Kushner Companies at the time the false permits were filed, resigned his position and sold some of his real estate assets in January 2017 in order to serve as an adviser in the White House to President Donald Trump. [AP] — Erin Hudson