Mayor Bill de Blasio on Aug. 25 signed 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, which includes legislation sponsored by Brooklyn Council Member Jumaane D. Williams, addresses remedies for tenant harassment.
“I’m proud to sponsor legislation that is a part of this important package,” said Williams, chair of the Committee on Housing and Buildings, who represents the 45th Council District in Brooklyn. “My bill, Intro 1556, sends 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,” he added, “we must also change how we thwart handle these situations to thwart their bad practices.”
Intro 1556, sponsored by 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,” he added. “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.
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 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; and 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,” he added. “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.”
Williams said he was also “pleased to have helped shepherd both packages through the committee.
“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,” he said.
The bills go into effect 120 days after signed into law.