State wrongly hid identities of landlords accused of cheating rent-stabilization rules: tenant advocates

Landlords allegedly broke rules of J-51 program

RuthAnne Visnauskas
RuthAnne Visnauskas

Tenants are calling on the state to unveil the identities of various landlords accused of unlawfully deregulating rent-stabilized apartments.

A petition filed this month claims the New York State Division of Homes and Community Renewal is wrongly hiding the identities of landlords who allegedly deregulated rent-stabilized apartments while receiving tax benefits from the J-51 abatement program, according to the New York Daily News. Under the program, landlords must keep all units rent-stabilized.

The state sent letters to landlords in 2016 warning that they could lose their benefits if they don’t keep apartments rent-stabilized. Robert Grimble and Shaina Weissman, attorneys who have represented tenants in rent disputes, claim in the petition that the state refused to provide a list of the landlords who received the letters when they filed a public records request.

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Community Renewal maintained that fulfilling the request “would interfere with law enforcement.”

“Rather than oblige landlords to re-stabilize illegally deregulated units and reset the rents to the correct amounts, the J-51 initiative merely sent them letters asking them to re-stabilize their apartments,” said representatives for the Housing Rights Initiative, a tenant advocacy group that signed onto the petition. [NYDN] — Kathryn Brenzel