It’s hard to say what brings out the worst in New Yorkers more, real estate or schools. But when those two bloodsports overlap, things get really nasty.
Desperate to get their children in to the city’s top public schools, well-heeled parents are renting apartments with specific school districts in order to qualify their children. And with private schools often exceeding $40,000 a year for each child, a $2,000 a month studio starts looking like a much better deal.
“It happens a lot when we represent a building that is part of a good public school zone,” FirstService President Aviv Zumin told the Observer. “People will say, ‘Can I just rent the apartment and not even move in just to give myself an address near that school?’ ”
And of course quite a few city brokers are more than happy to help parents with the scam, which by the way is completely against the rules. If a school discovers that a child is not actually living within the zone they will be transferred to the correct school.
“Everybody in New York is trying to work the angles,” Joyce Szuflita, a Brooklyn-based consultant who specializes in helping families navigate the city’s public schools, told the Observer. She added that lying about your residence for school zoning purposes “is not something that I recommend at all.”
And apparently schools are getting savvier and are checking in on large families that are supposedly living in nearby studios.
“The schools that have problems with capacity, frankly, the secretaries who work in their offices should work for the TSA. We would all be much safer. Very little gets by them,” Szuflita said.
So what’s a good parent to do. Throw money at the problem obviously. Either go private or buy property in the area and split your time there.
BOND New York agent David Kazemi said one of his clients recently decided to swap their 2,000 a month rental scam for a $2 million townhouse in school zone.