Jared Kushner's Company Faces New York State Investigation After Tenant Harassment Lawsuit

New York state launched an investigation Monday into Jared Kushner's family-owned real estate company, which purchased a residential building in Brooklyn and converted it into luxury condos, following a lawsuit that alleges tenant harassment.

The Tenant Protection Unit is investigating whether Kushner Cos. violated state housing laws at its Austin Nichols House in Brooklyn's pricey Williamsburg neighborhood after tenants filed a lawsuit Sunday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo's administration announced.

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"According to the allegations," a Cuomo administration press release read, "Kushner Cos. engaged in a campaign to push rent-stabilized tenants out of their apartments by undertaking major construction that released dangerous toxins into the air and created unlivable conditions for tenants, including vermin and excessive construction noise."

"Under State law, it is illegal for landlords to engage in conduct which interferes with or disturbs the privacy, comfort, peace, repose or quiet enjoyment of the tenant or is intended to cause the tenant to vacate the housing accommodation," the release added.

The lawsuit states that Kushner Cos.renovated most of the 338 units in the building around June 2015 "to transform and convert a Rent Stabilized residential apartment building into a luxury condominium," and that it was done while tenants, including infants, were inside.

"The intentional and negligent actions of Defendants have caused Plaintiffs, and young children, to be exposed to a constant cloud of toxic smoke and dust, illegal noise, unsafe conditions, unregulated and unsupervised workmen performing construction activity while releasing contaminated dust containing lead, crystalline silicates, gypsum, and other poisonous and carcinogenic substances," the lawsuit filed with help from the Housing Rights Initiative underscored.

Tenants continue to suffer through "chronic rodent infestation, illegal noise, sporadic flooding, loss of hot water," among a lengthy list of subpar conditions.

Housing Rights Initiative and Brooklyn BP Eric Adams announce lawsuit against Kushner Corp and allegedly illegal condo conversion in Williamsburg. pic.twitter.com/XiKacQVplX

— FRED MOGUL (@fredmogul) July 16, 2018

The Associated Press found that more than 250 rent-stabilized units, 75 percent of the building, were vacated or sold over the past three years as Kushner Cos. converted units into a luxury condo, and that the company has made more than $155 million.

Kushner Cos., which Kushner stopped heading after becoming a senior White House adviser, did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Newsweek on Monday.

A spokesperson for the company in a statement to Curbed called the lawsuit "totally without merit and we intend to defend it vigorously."

"Tenants were never pressured to leave their apartments and the market-rate rent stabilization was—and continues to be—complied with under applicable rent guidelines," the statement read. "Any complaints during construction (which was completed in 2017) were evaluated and addressed promptly by the property management team."

RuthAnne Visnauskas, a commissioner for New York State Homes and Community Renewal that oversees the Tenant Protection Unit, said in statement: "In New York, no one is above the law, and we will thoroughly investigate the appalling allegations of harassment at this or any related property and hold anyone found guilty of such abuse responsible to the fullest extent of the law."