More than 130,000 current and former tenants filed a class-action lawsuit against President Trump and his family business for allegedly elevating rents in rent-regulated apartments since 1992.
Filed in Kings County Supreme Court in New York, the lawsuit alleges President Trump, his late father Fred, and other members of the family increased rent by falsifying the cost of capital building improvements in reports to New York City housing authorities.
“This was a huge tax fraud scheme, designed to allow Fred Trump to transfer money to his family members without paying estate and gift taxes, while at the same time, stealing money from their rent-regulated apartment house tenants,” said Jerry Parker, senior partner at Parker Waichman, which filed the lawsuit on behalf of the tenants.
“What is totally outrageous is the Trumps made the middle-class tenants of their rent-regulated apartments pay for the money that was fraudulently diverted to the millionaire and possibly billionaire Trump children and nephew.”
The lawsuit claims Fred Trump negotiated low prices for capital improvements – such as refrigerators and boilers – for his building. He allegedly then directed a family-owned management company to pay for the items, invoicing his own management company for an amount in excess of what was actually paid.
The management company would then use the inflated invoices to raise rents on rent-regulated apartments, the lawsuit alleges, allowing the family to keep the difference between the actual price paid and the inflated prices charged to the management company and ultimately passed on to tenants.
“Whether landlord or tenant, whether rich or poor, fair play has nothing to do with who you are. Things are either right or they’re wrong. What the Trumps did was clearly wrong.”
President Trump, his brother Robert and his sister Maryanne are named in the lawsuit, as well as the companies that manage the rental properties.
A Trump family spokesman told the Washington Post the lawsuit is “completely frivolous.”
“Not only are the allegations completely unsupported by any evidence, but they relate to events which go back nearly 30 years — yet were never once raised by anyone at any time only to be conveniently filed just one month before the 2020 Presidential election,” Kimberly Benza told the Post.