Brooklyn Boro

Cuomo orders 800 Brooklyn buildings back on rent regulation

January 7, 2016 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Governor Andrew Cuomo says building owners illegally de-regulated the apartments. AP Photo/Kathy Willens
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Charging that landlords getting a major tax break from New York state illegally deregulated apartments, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has ordered 50,000 housing units to be returned to rent-regulated status.

The governor’s order includes 800 buildings in Brooklyn, according to officials in the Cuomo administration.

Cuomo, who issued his order on Jan. 6, said that the owners of the targeted buildings are receiving J-51 tax benefits from the state and had claimed to be exempt from rent regulation, contrary to the law.

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The state is sending a letter to each building owner with instructions to re-register their units as rent-regulated apartments.

Tenants’ rights under the state’s rent stabilization law will also be restored, the governor said.

“There will be zero tolerance for those who disregard the law and reap these benefits while denying tenants affordable housing they are obligated to provide. We’re pursuing every avenue to return these units to rent stabilization and take us one step closer to ensuring every New Yorker has a safe, decent and affordable place to call home,” Cuomo said.

New York courts have determined that any apartment that was subject to the rent stabilization law at the date of the receipt of the J-51 benefits must register those units as rent stabilized.

Cuomo’s effort, which is pursuant to those court decisions, is expected to return 50,000 apartments to rent regulation and provide the tenants of these units with protections under the Rent Stabilization Law and Code, including annual renewal leases and rent increases pursuant to the Rent Guidelines Board. 

Roughly half of the buildings affected have more than 36 units and about half are smaller buildings with fewer than 36 apartments.

In New York City, the targeted properties include nearly 2,000 buildings in Manhattan, more than 500 buildings in the Bronx, more than 700 buildings in Queens and nearly 20 buildings in Staten Island, in addition to 800 buildings in Brooklyn.

James S. Rubin, commissioner of New York State Homes and Community Renewal, said the state is dedicated to insuring the rights of tenants.

“The Office of Rent Administration and the Governor’s Tenant Protection Unit have taken numerous proactive steps to ensure that the Rent Regulation Law and Code are followed and units are properly registered with the agency. This J-51 Re-registration Initiative is just a small part of that oversight to protect tenants and ensure that landlords follow the law,” Rubin said.

Landlords who illegally deregulated apartments were caught when New York Homes and Community Renewal used internal data to identify apartments that have left the rent regulation system while cross referencing those units with those receiving the J-51 tax abatement.

Landlords receiving the letter regarding their J-51 abatement have an incentive to re-register voluntarily or face the prospect of having to pay damages on any overcharge awards granted. 

In December, New York Homes and Community Renewal announced that the Tenant Protection Unit collaborated with Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office and the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development to ensure that approximately 200 buildings receiving a 421-a tax break who filed for co-op/condo conversion were properly providing rent-regulated leases to their tenants.

 


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