NEW YORK (FOX5NY.COM) - The nonprofit group Housing Rights Initiative and City Council Member Ritchie Torres are accusing Jared Kushner's real estate company of using a scheme to drive tenants out of their rent-stabilized apartments so they could make more money on the buildings.
They allege that over a four-year period Kushner Companies lied to the city Buildings Department about the number of rent-stabilized apartments in 34 of its buildings. Kushner Companies reportedly filed more than 80 false work permit applications with the city, which is against the law, with the goal of driving out tenants with nonstop construction.
Housing Rights Initiative Executive Director Aaron Carr claimed that tenants endured around-the-clock construction, rodent infestations, potential asbestos exposure, black mold, collapsed buildings, and more.
They say the scheme by President Trump's son-in-law's company resulted in about 100 rent-stabilized tenants giving up their apartments, enabling the Kushner Companies to later sell some of its buildings for 50 percent more than what the company paid for them.
Torres said that the falsification of building permits poses a profound threat to the availability of affordable housing units.
Before becoming one of the president's senior advisors, Kushner stepped down as CEO of Kushner Companies. However, he has retained stakes in many of the firm's properties.
In a statement, Kushner Companies said that its city government filings are handled by third parties and that "if mistakes or violations are identified, corrective action is taken immediately."
"The buck stops with Kushner Companies," Torres said. "Kushner Companies hires these contractors."
The Real Deal reporter Konrad Putzier told Fox 5 that real estate companies lying about the number of their rent-stabilized apartments is common practice. He said the Buildings Department makes giving false information easy for landlords, who do this all the time.