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Cezary Podkul – De Blasio Says ‘Enough is Enough’: Landlords Getting Big Tax Break Must Cap Rent Hikes

In his sharpest critique yet of scofflaw landlords, Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Tuesday it’s “outrageous” that thousands of New York City property owners accepted tax benefits from the city in exchange for limiting rent increases but did not live up to their obligations.

“Enough is enough. Building owners who fail to comply will lose the benefit,” de Blasio said in a press release formally announcing a large-scale enforcement program targeting more than 3,000 rental buildings. City officials first disclosed the initiative at a City Council hearing on Nov. 22.

The statement marks a change in tone for de Blasio, who had previously touted his efforts to reform the tax break, known as 421-a, as being enough to help the city’s renters, while rarely calling for closer scrutiny of landlords. It also comes as 421-a enforcement lapses face increasing criticism from local elected officials.

“If we give people free money, they will take it,” Jumaane Williams, chair of the City Council’s housing committee, said at a rally against 421-a on the steps of City Hall last week. Williams and Council Member Stephen Levin of Brooklyn have introduced legislation requiring annual audits of rental buildings receiving 421-a tax breaks. The bills have not yet been voted on.

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