Rent-Regulated Tenants Busted
Amid numerous investigations against landlords in New York accused of violating rent stabilization regulations, New York officials now are targeting tenants who are abusing the system.
“Double dippers” — those who live in rent-regulated apartments but claim another residence — will no longer get away with also enjoying a popular tax exemption on a separately-owned home.
Governor Cuomo criticized those double-dippers, saying that any corruption of the rent-stabilization system hurts the hard-working tenants and homeowners who follow the rules.
In the first-ever crackdown, rent-regulation records were cross-checked against the statewide School Tax Relief (STAR) registration system, and 156 duplicate names were found.
New York State Homes and Community Renewal and the State Tax Department sent joint letters that give recipients 60 days to correct their records, or risk having the information provided to their respective landlords.
“In 2011, the state’s rent laws were extended and strengthened for the first time in decades, as part of Governor Cuomo’s efforts to effectively protect tenants. The rent laws have critical obligations for landlords, but also for tenants. This action is an important next step to protect two million rent-regulated tenants from the abuses of a relative handful who would try to defraud the system,” says Commissioner and CEO of New York State Homes and Community Renewal Darryl C. Towns.
Commissioner of New York State Department of Taxation & Finance Thomas H. Mattox adds it is also simple common sense: if you lease a rent-regulated apartment, you cannot also have another home as your primary residence.
Last year, New York State introduced a new statewide STAR registration program to protect New Yorkers from the cost of those falsely claiming multiple exemptions. Approximately 2.4 million property taxpayers registered for the Basic Star exemption. The STAR program provides targeted school property tax savings to more than three million eligible homeowners across New York. The Basic STAR exemption, saving homeowners $700 per year on average, is available to all homeowners with incomes below $500,000, while the Enhanced STAR program is available to senior homeowners with incomes below $81,900.
The state’s rent-regulation laws, among the most comprehensive in the nation, aim to maintain the affordability of approximately 1 million apartments in New York City and the surrounding counties. The laws limit rent increases, ensure timely lease renewals, prohibit harassment, and set minimum standards for conditions and maintenance of apartments.
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