NEW YORK CITY — Up to 50,000 apartments are rent regulated again and more than $2.25 million have been returned to tenants who were overcharged rent by landlords, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Tuesday.
An investigation by the Tenant Protection Unit, an initiative funded by Cuomo, found the landlords of more than 4,800 buildings did not charge their tenants the rent that state regulations mandated, according to the New York State Homes and Community Renewal Office which runs the TPU.
The state then forced those landlords whose properties were improperly removed from the city’s roster of rent-regulated apartments to reregister them.
In January, the agency uncovered an additional 50,000 apartments inside nearly 4,000 buildings across the city that were also set to be returned to rent regulation after their owners were found to be violating their affordable housing tax benefits.
“TPU has successfully fought for tenants’ rights, returning thousands of units to rent regulation, holding bad actors accountable and forcing restitution for those who have been overcharged,” Cuomo said in a statement Tuesday.
The TPU also told landlords that unless they repay the $2.25 million of extra rent they collectively charged tenants, they will face up to three-times that much in fines.
But Delsenia Glover, a lead organizer of the Alliance for Tenant Power, believes the TPU is a band-aid solution to a much bigger problem.
"I think it’s always a terrific thing when regulated apartments are returned to the system,” Glover said. “But the issue is we have to stop rent-regulated apartments leaving the system in the first place."
Her organization estimates that there are 1 million apartments, with approximately 2.5 million residents, that should be rent-regulated but are not.
Until stronger tenant protection legislation is passed, Glover believes the TPU will not be able to prevent landlords from overcharging their tenants.
"It's like catching flour in a sieve,” Glover said. “You’re going to lose more than you catch."
You can request a copy of your apartment's rental history through the HCR's Office of Rent Administration.
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the outcome of the state's investigation into the owners of the 50,000 units. They were found to have overcharged rent to tenants but were not in violation of tax breaks.