New York, NY – Mayor Bill de Blasio has signed into law a bill that aims to ensure that properties seeking tax exemptions are living up to their promises. The bill, Intro. 1366-A, requires that the Department of Housing Preservation and Development audit buildings that claim the 421-a tax exemption are in fact complying with the rent regulation requirements that apply to the exemptions. There had not previously been this kind of oversight and enforcement. “For a regulation to have any positive impact, it needs to be meaningfully enforced. While I have long been critical of the 421-a tax exemption, the least we can do is to make sure that what little is promised is actually acted upon.” said Williams of the bill he introduced. “Enacting this legislation will empower the Department of Housing Preservation and Development take action; ensuring these regulations are being adhered to and protecting those for whom they were enacted in the first place. Tenants are being egregious taken advantage of, and the tax exemption is being exploited without having meaningful benefit for those tenants. The signing of this legislation is crucial to ensuring that this rampant exploitation can no longer take place, and I thank Council Member Levin for his help in addressing this pressing need for oversight.”
The bill was signed alongside a similar measure introduced by Council Member Levin, Intro. 1359-A, for which Council Member Williams was a co-prime sponsor. Council Member Levin, in turn, was a co-prime sponsor of 1366-A. Together, the bills fill a significant gap when it comes to monitoring those landlords who claim tax exemptions, providing a method to examine whether their promises are being kept.
“Our residents deserve access to affordable and stable housing, especially if the landlords received tax benefits to build those units,” said Council Member Stephen Levin. “It’s unconscionable that landlords are receiving millions in tax breaks to provide community benefits and are instead charging rents that push New Yorkers out of their homes. With the help of this legislation this will come to an end. I’m proud of working together with Council Member Williams to require HPD to audit properties where developers benefit from 421-A tax credits. These audits will determine whether developers have met their obligation to provide affordable or rent-stabilized units, and file timely, accurate qualifying paperwork. Properties found failing will be reported to the NYC Council and Department of Finance for revocation of tax benefits. This legislation will send a strong message – hold up your end of the deal or pay the consequences.