Is your rent legal? It might not be. Your landlord might be charging you too much, and we want your help figuring that out.
“We will not tolerate landlords who break the law and deny their tenants rent-regulated leases, plain and simple,” Cuomo said in a statement at the time. With Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, the governor announced a new enforcement effort to clean up such abuses.
But an investigation by ProPublica found that in reality, state and New York City officials have tolerated the problem for years—and ignored pleas to investigate. Nor is it limited to the building owners Cuomo and Schneiderman found—landlords have failed to register thousands of buildings for rent regulation, casting doubt on the legality of leases for about 50,000 apartments across the city.
That is the finding of an extensive analysis of government data covering nearly 15,000 rental buildings receiving the tax subsidies as of 2013. About 40%—or 5,500 buildings—weren’t listed as rent-stabilized, yet records show the owners are receiving more than $100 million in property tax reductions.
Stephen Werner, an analyst at the city’s Housing Preservation and Development Department (HPD), has been complaining to higher-ups about the missing registrations for decades. Werner said he first told his bosses 20 years ago they were “perpetrating a fraud” by counting too many apartments as rent-stabilized in the triennial surveys prepared for the City Council and the public.
Briefed on ProPublica’s analysis, Jumaane Williams, a city council member from Brooklyn who chairs the council’s housing and buildings committee, called for a “severe and swift response” to ensure that tenants are getting the rent protections they deserve.