Just call him “Slumlord Millionaire.” An AP exclusive found that first son-in-law Jared Kushner’s real estate company filed false paperwork with the city of New York in an effort to turn a quick profit off of numerous buildings with rent-controlled units in them. As a result, hundreds of rent-stabilized tenants lost some of the last affordable housing available in the rapidly gentrifying city.
Over the course of three years, Kushner Co. acquired three buildings in Queens, filed paperwork claiming there were no rent-controlled units in them, and then turned around and sold them for $60 million, which was 50% more than the company paid.
The truth was, however, that there were hundreds of rent-controlled units in those buildings, which would have prevented the company from completing the deal.
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The company claimed that it outsourced the preparation of those documents, and in fact, none of the documents bore Jared Kushner’s actual signature, but that doesn’t absolve the company of blame in a bald-faced denial of due process rights for those tenants.
The company also engaged in what’s called “weaponization of construction.” That’s where a landlord makes a building so uninhabitable, with nonstop construction noise, dust, banging, and foot traffic, that tenants will up and leave of their own accord. That way, landlords like Kushner Co. can either turn around and sell the property or raise rents to market value.
The Housing Rights Initiative, a tenants’ rights watchdog group, found that Kushner Cos. filed at least 80 false applications for construction permits in 34 buildings across New York City from 2013 to 2016. The permits claimed there were zero rent-controlled units where there were actually 300.
Filing false applications is a misdemeanor crime that carries a fine of up to $25,000.
In other instances, rent-controlled tenants were offered lump sums of as little as $10,000 to vacate their units. One tenant turned down the money and sued instead. She won a year’s worth of free rent and a new refrigerator.
Another tenant, a mailman named Romano, hired a lawyer when the Kushner Co. came knocking. He discovered that he was protected by law from their proposed 60% rent increase. But not so many rent-controlled tenants have the resources or the knowledge to protect themselves like that.
So the Kushner Co. was able to play fast and loose with rent-control laws, kicking hundreds of tenants out of their living situations and into an incredibly challenging housing market where few can afford rent, regardless of income.
And even though the company claims Jared Kushner’s signature never appeared on any of these false documents, his name still hangs over the door, a tacit endorsement of flagrantly scumbag business practices. It no doubt reflects on the way he does business in all areas, which means he has no business being anywhere near the White House.