Eric Schneiderman for Attorney General

City going after building owners who got major tax breaks but broke rules protecting tenant rights

November 23, 2016

As published by the New York Daily News on November 22, 2016.

Building owners that got lucrative tax breaks through an abatement program but didn’t follow the strict rules aimed at protecting tenants’ rights are in for a rude awakening.

State and city officials on Monday sent letters to 178 buildings telling owners that tax breaks from the program — known as 421-A — will be revoked if they don’t begin complying with the program requirements, officials said.

They will have 90 days to either comply, or give back the money they’ve received and forfeit any future funds they were promised, officials said.

Among the requirements that the owners failed to fulfil are registering their rent regulated units with the city and supplying tenants with rent regulated leases, officials said.

The buildings were targeted under a joint initiative between the de Blasio administration, Gov. Cuomo’s office, and Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.

In September, officials wrote similar revocation letters to 35 buildings that received $4.5 million in tax breaks from the 421-A program.

The state law that grants 421-A tax breaks recently expired, and officials are trying to work out a deal that would strengthen it to spur more affordable housing.

Under the old plan, developers could use loopholes to get out of building affordable units, which led to criticism from housing advocates.