Oct. 28, 2020 By Christian Murray
Two Long Island City landlords were hit with fines Monday for failing to adhere to the rules governing the 421-a property tax exemption.
The landlords, who get tax breaks on their property as part of the program, flouted the rules by failing to offer rent-stabilized leases to tenants as required to qualify for the exemption, according to New York State Attorney General Letitia James.
One case was brought against the developers of the Bridgeview Tower, which is located at 23-01 41st Ave. near the Queensboro Plaza subway station. The sponsors submitted paper work indicating the building would be a condominium, which is not subject to the rent-stabilization requirements.
However, investigators found that the condo development was eventually converted to a rental building and the sponsor failed to treat the tenants as rent stabilized under the terms of 421-a.
Bridgeview and its principals Zehao Fang, Simon Hung and Austin Ting are required to pay a $150,000 penalty and treat all tenants as rent stabilized. They are also required to refund any illegal overcharges.
The second case dealt with the sponsor of the 5-11 50th Avenue Condominium and its principals Joseph Escarfullery, Elizabeth Petrossian and Hyunseon Chung.
The sponsor, according to James’ office, represented that the building was vacant even though it was occupied by residential tenants.
The sponsor received 421-a tax benefits for approximately 15 years but failed to provide tenants with rent-stabilized leases and overcharged them, according to James.
The sponsor is required to pay $179,000 in restitution to the state and $21,000 to tenants who were overcharged.
“Rent-stabilization laws exist to protect tenants, and we will not let landlords or developers circumvent them,” said Attorney General James in a statement. “The agreements announced today affirm my office’s commitment to promoting access to safe, affordable housing for all New Yorkers.