A real estate venture formerly run by Jared Kushner falsified construction permits for dozens of apartment buildings it owned in New York City, allowing the company to push out rent-controlled tenants and boost profits when it later sold the properties, according to a report by The Associated Press.
In the AP exclusive, the news agency, working with Housing Rights Initiative, uncovered at least 80 such applications for construction in 34 buildings across New York City from 2013 to 2016.
According to the news agency, "the Kushner Cos. checked a box on construction permit applications in 2015 that indicated the buildings had zero rent-regulated tenants." However, "Tax records filed a few months later showed the company inherited as many as 94 rent-regulated units from the previous owner," AP said.
Properties with rent-controlled apartments are subject to greater oversight for construction permits and "possibly unscheduled 'sweeps' on site by inspectors to keep the company from harassing tenants and getting them to leave," the news agency reports.
Bloomberg reports that while Kushner divested some of his assets when he joined the White House, his stakes in three Astoria, Queens, properties that are the focus of the AP report were not among them.
"While none of the documents during a three-year period when Kushner was CEO bore his personal signature, they provide a window into the ethics of the business empire he ran before he went on to become one of the most trusted advisers to the president of the United States," according to the news agency.
Current and former tenants in those buildings told the AP that they had been "subjected to extensive construction, with banging, drilling, dust and leaking water that they believe were part of targeted harassment to get them to leave and clear the way for higher-paying renters."
Responding to the report, Kushner Cos. said its government filings are handled by third parties subject to independent review and that "If mistakes or violations are identified, corrective action is taken immediately."