The state is cracking down on more than 150 double dippers who live in rent-regulated apartments in New York City and the surrounding counties while also claiming a School Tax Relief exemption on a separately owned home, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced today.
The New York State Homes & Community Renewal Department and the state Department of Taxation and Finance cross-checked rent-regulation records with the statewide STAR registration system, which was implemented last year. They found 156 duplicate names. The agencies are giving the people 60 days to correct their records or risk having the information provided to their landlords.
“These programs are meant to deliver much-needed rent and property tax relief to New York residents, and any corruption of the system hurts the hard-working tenants and homeowners who follow the rules,” Cuomo said in a statement. “This action is a direct result of reforms our administration has implemented to target abuse in State programs to create a fairer and more equal New York.”
New York introduced a STAR registration program last year to crack down on fraud and prevent New Yorkers from falsely claiming multiple exemptions. About 2.4 million property taxpayers registered for the Basic STAR exemption, which provides school property tax relief. Basic STAR is available to all homeowners whose annual incomes are below $500,000, and the average savings is $700 a year. The registration did not apply to Enhanced STAR, which is for senior citizen homeowners with annual incomes below $81,900.
The state’s rent-regulation laws apply to roughly one million apartments in New York City and the surrounding counties, including Westchester. The laws limit rent hikes, ensure timely lease renewals, prohibit harassment and set minimum standards for conditions and maintenance of apartments.
“Today we are sending a strong message about primary residency that is explicitly stated in the law, as well as in every lease and property tax bill,” Thomas Mattox, commissioner of the Tax Department, said in a statement. “However, it is also simple common sense: if you lease a rent-regulated apartment, you cannot also have another home as your primary residence.”