Councilmember Proposes Bill to Make Owners Stop Lying on Permits

Councilmember Ritchie Torres introduced a new bill to stop owners from falsely claiming on applications for building permits that their properties have no rent-regulated units. According to a report recently released by the Housing Rights Initiative and the Department of Investigation, the city approved more than 10,000 false permit applications in the past two and a half years.

The legislation would require the DOB and the finance department to work together to identify false statements by owners that might be unlawful. If an owner is found to have falsified information about any particular building, the bill asks that the DOB then examine the owner’s entire portfolio of properties for false statements.

If violations are found, the bill would also require the DOB to notify the City Council, city Department of Investigation, state Department of Housing and Community Renewal, county District Attorney, and state Attorney General. Additionally, the legislation would mandate that the DOB and DHCR share information about occupied rent-regulated buildings.

Torres said the legislation would help “close the Kushner loophole.” In August, the DOB fined Kushner $210,000 for failing to identify in 42 different instances that rent-regulated tenants lived at its properties.