Housing & Buildings
Council Passes Tenant Harassment Package
NEW YORK, NY : On August 9, the New York City Council passed two packages of bills that seek to curb tenant harassment. The first package, Stand for Tenant Safety (STS), affords tenants better protections from potentially harmful construction projects that are being used to push residents out of their homes. The second set of bills address remedies for tenant harassment .
“I’m proud to sponsor legislation that is a part of this important package,” said Council Member Jumaane D. Williams, Chair of the Committee on Housing and Buildings. “My bill, Intro 1556sends a message to unscrupulous landlords that the City is serious about protecting tenants and their rights.
“As the pace of construction continues to increase and creates opportunities for unscrupulous owners to take advantage and harass New Yorkers,” said Council Member Williams, ” we must also change how we thwart handle these situations to thwart their bad practices.”
Intro 1556 sponsored by Council Member Williams would increase the civil penalties for violations of the administrative code for tenant harassment.
Council Member Antonio Reynoso, co-Chair of the Progressive Caucus, is the lead sponsor for Intro 938, 939, and 940. The bills call for the Department of Buildings (DOB) to maintain watch list of contractors who have conducted work without a permit, and increase penalties for those working without permits and have violated stop work orders.
“I am proud to Stand for Tenant Safety. This a victory for everyone- for the advocates who have been tirelessly working on the ground in our neighborhoods and for the tenants who are being driven out of their rent stabilized homes by unscrupulous landlords. The citywide coalition’s assistance with crafting the legislation has been paramount,” said Council Member Reynoso . “Today, the Department of Buildings will have a comprehensive package of reforms to work with for better enforcement. These bills strengthen and protect tenants’ rights to stay in their homes and not be harassed by construction to their unit or building. This is key legislation for my district of Williamsburg, Bushwick and Ridgewood where these tactics run rampant and just as valuable for families throughout the City.”
Council Member Helen Rosenthal, Vice-Chair for Budget Advocacy for the Progressive Caucus, sponsored Intro 347, 944, and 1523. The bills allow for compensatory damages from bad-acting landlords, increase building oversight, and establishes an Office of the Tenant Advocate within the DOB.
“I’m so inspired by the advocates who have spent years fighting to make the Stand for Tenant Safety package of reforms possible–this is their victory,” said Council Member Rosenthal. “This legislation represents a sweeping reform to the Department of Buildings, and it will make a major impact in the lives of tenants across the city. Congratulations to the entire Stand for Tenant Safety coalition and to all my colleagues on the Council who have taken this cause up.”
Council Member Ben Kallos, Vice-Chair for Policy for the Progressive Caucus, is the lead sponsor for Intro 930, which expands the definition of distressed buildings, and Intro 931, which allows the city to impose tax liens on buildings with judgments against them.
“The Stand for Tenant Safety legislative package aims to correct the behavior of the worst landlords, who will now face the threat of foreclosure if they neglect to make necessary repairs,” said Council Member Kallos . “For too long some landlords and building owners have neither fixed recurring problems on their properties nor paid the fines that go along with those violations, putting tenants in unsafe conditions sometimes for years on end. Introductions 930 and 931 are written to prevent just that.”
The rest of the bills in the two packages include:
• Intro 918 sponsored by Council Member Margaret Chin
• Intro 924 sponsored by Council Member Rafael Espinal
• Intro 926 sponsored by Council Member Dan Garodnick
• Intro 936 and Intro 1548 sponsored by Council Member Mark Levine
• Intro 960 sponsored by Council Member Rosie Mendez
• Intro 1133 sponsored by Council Member James Vacca
• Intro 1530 sponsored by Speaker Melissa Mark Viverito
• Intro 1549 sponsored by Council Member Carlos Menchaca
“Today, the City Council and the Progressive Caucus are putting landlords on notice that tenant harassment is unacceptable in this city,” said Council Member Donovan Richards, Co-Chair of the Progressive Caucus. “These practices aimed at displacing New Yorkers are inexcusable and put resident safety at risk, all so a landlord can raise rents. This package of legislation will ensure that landlords are held accountable and root out any property owners who don’t stand for their tenant’s safety.”
“I’m also pleased to have helped shepherd both packages through the committee,” said Council Member Williams. “Coupled with the other bills, they will go a long way in curbing these illegal practices and making sure those in violation of the City’s law will be penalized accordingly.
Click here for more housing legislation sponsored by Council Member Williams.