Before his meteoric ascent to the White House as father-in-law and President Trump's trusted senior advisor, Jared Kushner was a Manhattan landlord who did not enjoy the best reputation among his tenants.
In fact, one tenant of over 30 years told The Village Voice in an interview, "It's disgusting. It's insane. It's ludicrous. I don't know how to tell you how despicable this man is."
Obviously, she wasn't holding back. But she was not the only one who objected to the tactics tenant advocates refer to as "construction as harassment." This type of annoying activity has the primary goal of driving rent-stabilized tenants out of a property so the owner can free up the space for others who can pay luxury rates.
In 2014, when Kushner purchased the building in the East Village located at 170 East 2nd Street, he paid $17 million. His tenant claimed that the residents had to breathe "dust and fumes." Plaster was everywhere. Her ceiling collapsed more than once. She said it was chaotic for half a year. The Fire Department of New York had to rope off the whole block once due to a gas leak from the building.
Making the problem worse was the total communication gap between the tenants and the non-English-speaking workers. Kushner didn't come around himself and the management company focused on trying to pay tenants to move. Nine months later, 75 percent of the building's occupants were gone, his tenant said.
Rents rose accordingly. Units now rent for as much as $5,450 per month. This does not set well with the tenant advocacy group the Cooper Square Committee. Its members have been involved with organizing tenants in several of Kushner's buildings.
In a joint statement issued with the Fourth Arts Block Association, the Committee said, "our community has not benefited at all from Kushner's ownership of close to forty buildings in the East Village. [He] has converted scores of affordable rent-regulated apartments into luxury housing . . . [and on numerous occasions] faced allegations of harassment and lack of essential services" for the tenants.
Creating hazardous conditions to drive out rent-stabilized tenants in order to attract luxury occupants can bring allegations of premises liability and litigation for any damages and injuries that result.
Source: The Village Voice, "Jared Kushner's East Village Tenants 'Horrified' Their Landlord Will Be Working in the White House," Steven Wishnia, Jan. 12, 2017