The Associated Press reported Sunday that a tenants' rights watchdog found that the Kushner Cos. had filed more than 80 construction permit applications for 34 buildings across the city between 2013 and 2016 stating it had no rent-regulated tenants.
The false documents in 2015 were not the only ones filed, according to the Housing Rights Initiative.
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.
Jared Kushner's family real estate company routinely has filed false documents with New York City claiming it had no rent-regulated tenants in its buildings when, in fact, it had hundreds.
Bloomberg reports that while Kushner divested some of his assets when he joined the White House, his stakes in three Astoria, Queens, properties that are the focus of the AP report were not among them. In those cases, Kushner allegedly skirted rent-stabilization rules by not registering those buildings as having the required number of rent-regulated units.
Current and former tenants of the Queens buildings tell the AP they dealt with extensive construction they believe was part of an effort to get them to move out.
Kushner Cos., when reached for comment, blamed the false filings on third parties, claiming that it outsources document preparation.
A knock on the door came a few weeks later, and an offer of at least $10,000 if she agreed to leave the building.
"The scandal is not only the deception of Kushner Cos., the scandal is the dysfunction of the city bureaucracy", said Torres, chair of the city council's investigations committee. The Kushner Cos. sold the three Queens buildings a year ago for $60 million, almost 50 per cent more than it paid. The developer then made renovations and hiked the rents for the refurbished apartments.
Submitting false documents to the city's Department of Buildings for construction permits is a misdemeanor, which can carry fines of up to $25,000. Records show the company did file some amended documents, often more than a year later.
Here's what you need to know about Kushner's real estate record.
"We are very concerned about the allegations raised in the report and will be meeting with tenant representatives in the coming days", Amy Spitalnick, a spokeswoman for New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, said Monday in a statement. It added that the department is also ramping up its monitoring of construction, hiring 72 new inspectors under city laws recently passed to crack down on tenant harassment.
Exactly how much money the Kushner Cos. earned from the buildings mentioned in the documents is unclear.
Kushner, President Trump's son-in-law, stepped down as CEO of the company a year ago before becoming a senior adviser at the White House. But he retained stakes in a number of properties, including Westminster Management, a subsidiary that oversees Kushner Cos.' residential holdings, from which he reportedly earned a tidy $1.6 million previous year. Torres' aim is to turn the situation into an opportunity to strengthen regulatory oversight and fight back against what he referred to as "the weaponization of construction" against tenants.