The Kushner family real estate company was fined $210,000 by New York City regulators on Monday following an Associated Press investigation earlier this year that showed it routinely filed false documents with the city claiming it had no rent-regulated tenants in its buildings when, in fact, it had hundreds.
Separately, a watchdog group said Monday that former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen has engaged in the same practice, perhaps in a more brazen way, by telling the city that buildings he owned were empty, though tax records showed they were filled with tenants, many rent-regulated.
The city's buildings department fined the Kushner Cos. for filing 42 false applications for construction work on more than a dozen buildings when presidential adviser Jared Kushner ran the business. The AP report showed that the false paperwork allowed the Kushners to escape extra scrutiny designed to stop landlords from using construction to make living conditions for low-paying, rent-regulated tenants unbearable and get them to leave. The Kushner Cos. said it relied on "third party consultants" to prepare its applications for construction permits and the errors "have been corrected or will be."
After the AP report in March, the New York City Council and the New York state attorney general said they would look into the issue. Federal prosecutors in Brooklyn issued a subpoena to the company for documents.
The AP found that in three Kushner buildings in Queens for which false construction applications were filed, tenants believed the banging, drilling, dust and leaking water during construction were part of a targeted campaign to get them to leave. Many tenants did just that, and the number of protected rent-regulated units fell sharply in a little over a year, clearing the way for higher paying renters and making the buildings far more valuable. The Kushners sold the Queens buildings in 2017 for $60 million, nearly 50 percent more than they had paid for them two years earlier.
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