NYC Closing Loophole Landlords Use to Dodge Scrutiny

NEW YORK (AP) -

New York City lawmakers voted Wednesday to close a loophole that critics say encourages landlords to file false paperwork with the city.

The rule approved by the City Council will require regulators to double-check that landlords are telling the truth in construction permits when they claim to have no specially protected tenants who pay low rates. Mayor Bill de Blasio is expected to sign the new rule into law.

It follows an Associated Press report last year that found real estate companies, had falsely claimed it had no rent-regulated tenants in dozens of buildings when, in fact, it had hundreds. Critics say many landlords file false paperwork to avoid extra scrutiny that could stop them from using repairs and construction to drive out such tenants and replace them with ones who pay more.

The rule approved Wednesday will require regulators to check with tax records to make sure landlords are telling the truth. If the paperwork is false, the city’s investigations unit and the state attorney general’s office, among other authorities, must be alerted and all the landlord’s buildings audited.