Jared Kushner may be the millionaire son-in-law of an alleged billionaire (and new president-elect), but an $1,200 unpaid bill on one of his Manhattan apartment buildings threatened to leave tenants in the dark.
Kushner, a real-estate developer, apparently skipped payments on an electricity bill and a security deposit on a series of apartment buildings in Manhattan’s East Village. Tenants at 329-335 East 9th Street learned of the missing bills when power company Con Edison posted turn-off service notices on the buildings’ front doors, neighborhood blog EV Grieve first reported. According to the notices, ConEd has been mailing the bills to Kushner’s management company. But apparently the soon-to-be First Son-in-Law’s firm forgot to pay.
“We regret to notify you that because KUSHNER VILLAGE 329 has not paid past due bills for $700.47 and a $525.00 security deposit… we will have to turn off service unless we receive payment by January 4, 2017,” the public letter from ConEd creditors to Kushner’s real-estate firm Westminster Management reads.
A $1,225 fee is peanuts to Kushner, whose estimated net worth has been cited in the hundreds of millions and who, in 2007 famously paid $1.8 billion for a midtown office building (a deal he later had to restructure, after it became apparent that he’d overpaid).
The letter, spotted on doors this weekend, was dated December 5, days before freezing temperatures were expected to hit the city.
A Westminster Management spokesperson told The Daily Beast that the bills were paid on December 12, the same day EV Grieve publicized the week-old service warning. The spokesperson said the company was transitioning to a new payment method, which might have caused them to miss some bills. A representative for ConEd confirmed to The Daily Beast on Tuesday that the building was no longer being threatened with a power cut.
ConEd also stressed that, as long as tenants had been more diligent than Kushner with their electricity bills, their individual apartments would not lose power. Only the common spaces, like halls, stairwells, and lobbies, would go dark and cold.
But Kushner’s presence in the East Village has long been a controversial one. The second-largest landowner in the neighborhood, Kushner has been accused of purchasing his buildings at discount rates from companies that buy low-rent buildings and bully out long-time tenants. These companies allegedly evicted rent-stabilized tenants or harassed tenants with unwanted construction, including “[changing] the front-door lock code during Hurricane Sandy in 2012 without informing tenants,” a former tenant told Gothamist.
This tenant turnover cleared the way for Kusher to purchase the buildings and rent them for luxury rates as the East Village gentrified and property values soared.
Yet even at new, marked-up rents, Kushner’s buildings still attract their share of complaints.
Within the past year at the block of buildings where ConEd threatened to cut power, multiple tenants have contacted the city to complain of range of issues, including lead, a growing “damp spot” on a ceiling and wall, and a “hole” in a kitchen floor, public records show.
These complaints pale in the face of other recent complaints at Kushner’s East Village properties. Tenants at nearby 118 East Fourth Street took Kushner’s company to Housing Court in March after they allegedly went nearly five months with only sporadic power. The tenants also alleged dangerous conditions, including collapsed ceilings, rats, questionable wiring, and growing mounds of trash.
“Woke up this morning to 7 degrees, its now 14 degrees outside, and no heat at 118 East St,” one wrote in February on Occupy East 4th Street, a blog dedicated to publicizing the building’s grievances. The writer suggested that the lack of heat was targeting rent-stabilized tenants, a tactic sometimes used to drive those tenants from building and increase rents in their absence. “Through some communications with the other tenants, it seems the heat is on in one line of the building. That line contains the market rate tenants.”
Local politicians have also suggested that Kushner made buildings unwelcoming in order to drive out unwanted tenants. At a block of Kushner-owned apartments on nearby East Second Street, New York City officials held a 2014 event to denounce “the poor and unsustainable living conditions including perceived harassment by the landlord and his agents."
“Jared Kushner has owned the buildings for about 8 months,” officials said in a press release detailing inhospitable conditions including gas shutoff. “Over the period of Kushner’s ownership of the buildings, there has been a 70 percent turnover rate.”
Kushner is already a member of his father-in-law’s presidential transition team. Trump has indicated that he would like Kushner to remain involved in either his business or political efforts, reportedly requesting top-secret security clearance for the real-estate agent.
“I would love to be able to have them involved,” Trump said during a Sunday interview when asked whether he would include his daughter and Kushner in his administration, adding that Kushner is a “very talented guy”.
Trump has also suggested that Kushner might work for the administration in the Middle East, brokering peace between Israel and Palestine. Kushner might want to broker peace with his tenants first.