The Real Deal New York

De Blasio signs tenant harassment bill

Measure lifts maximum penalty and requires DHP to post list of problem landlords

October 01, 2014 03:40PM

From left: Jumaane Williams, Melissa Mark-Viverito and Margaret Chin

From left: Jumaane Williams, Melissa Mark-Viverito and Margaret Chin, who sponsored the bill

Mayor Bill de Blasio signed a bill Tuesday that will require the Department of Housing Preservation and Development to post a list of landlords found in housing court to have harassed tenants on its website. The measure also lifts the maximum penalty for such landlords to $10,000 per residential unit.

The measure gives teeth to a 2008 city law prohibiting tactics, such as interrupting utilities, that are commonly use in an effort to force tenants to vacate an apartment or waive their tenancy rights. Such actions on the rise in the city’s rapidly gentrifying neighborhoods, according to the New York Times. From next year, such landlords who run afoul of the law will be publicly exposed.

“There are good landlords out there, but the ones who don’t do the right thing need to feel consequences,” Mayor Bill de Blasio, who ran a Worst Landlords Watchlist during his days as public advocate, told the Times.

Harassment complaints rose to 748 last year from 541 in 2012, housing officials told the paper, adding that only a fraction of such cases reach housing court and result in a harassment finding. More than 3,600 cases have been filed since 2008, with 810 leading to settlements and 45 a finding of harassment. [NYT]Julie Strickland

  • Bullied and Damaged by Rent Re

    If the City Council wants to create a new position of ombudsman to oversee the spending on senior citizen centers which means it will be a salaried position if not creating an entire department to oversee spending, why can’t the City Council afford to have a tenant ombudsman?

    http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5298-council-members-state-you-wont-we-will-senior-day-care-centers

    Also, we are not policing or punishing nonprofit landlords who can’t pay their bills including taxes because the rents are too low, so what is the point of an ombudsman for senior citizen centers when there are more serious expenditures being wasted? I don’t understand how the owners can be slammed with repair expenses and low rents while our tenants are on their third succession and own real estate but if the city takes over the building and sells it for five dollars, the nonprofits can’t run it either and if the building is sold to someone with deep pockets, they absolutely will try to get tenants out to make up for the price they paid for the building so it’s not really a workable strategy.

    Are we SCRIE-ing market apartments but not rented condo units? Or is this the first step to regulating all rental income?

    http://www.crainsnewyork.com/article/20140910/REAL_ESTATE/140909833/seniors-left-out-of-rent-freeze-could-get-help

    And are all market apartments going to be turned into rent regulated apartments so as to be fair to all tenants including commercial store tenants?

    Will there be a database of retailers if rents are controlled anyway and the city can demand that they rent out our vacancies to serve the neighborhood?

    http://commercialobserver.com/2014/09/real-estate-industry-opposes-commercial-lease-bill/

    For all I know, this has the blessing of the developers though definitely not small owners.

  • Bullied and Damaged by Rent Re

    We don’t have such nice tenants so where is the “support” for good landlords claimed by the City Council?

    We really need an ombudsman. I would LOVE to call up the tenant advocates and ask them to intervene on their CLIENTS who hooked up the electric to a light bulb or who did other nasty unkind expensive and certainly not unintentional things on their premises. Do you think they will listen or is the tenant advocate just going to call in an electrical violation? Has that ever happened to any small owner when they don’t even have market rent units but just have very eager vindictive tenants?

    • Bullied and Damaged by Rent Re

      I have a tenant who lied in two different directions and it was very expensive getting an an attorney to answer if we were supposed to rehookup their illegal electrical hookup to the restaurant electric through a roof that was not even created until they had moved in (tenant advocated and everything and it was established that they installed it without permission and we can’t take on that burden of some crazy electrical wiring) but then the tenant claims that they never installed it, it was the previous tenant so they want us to give them a new set up.

      Shall I call the tenant advocate who coincidentally waited for me in the school hallway with her brother so he could smack me in the face while she offered him an alibi? And that was the longest conversation I had ever had with either one of them.

      We need that ECB board thing where you go to argue sanitation tickets and show that you have photos of the real culprits.

      There is no way you can demand that we pay someone $600 an hour to stop a tenant from lying about her electrical socket in a less than $200 apartment.

  • Bullied and Damaged by Rent Re

    There is a situation on nonprofit property through no fault of the administrators. It has been good intentions all the way but the inflexibility of the policy has created a situation that I can’t share because good people will get hurt but it is the same problem with facing a brick wall when we feel we don’t deserve to be penalized but only tenants because of income on paper, because of age get the rules bent for them constantly with promises of more changes in the future.

    http://ny.curbed.com/archives/2014/09/13/nonprofit_rivington_house_may_become_a_forprofit_clinic.php

    How is it possible that all the support only goes for one side and never to the other? It’s uncommon in the rest of the country, correct? This is so strange and unjustified.

    • Bullied and Damaged by Rent Re

      The City Council might want to do a google of Faith Hope Consolo’s leases in Harlem. IIRC, they are mostly private medical tenants that serve the neighborhood.

  • Bullied and Damaged by Rent Re

    I have a tenant who complains now that her tenant advocate started a senior center but she’s not allowed to use it because she doesn’t have a “white card.” But her main complaint is not about how plush these centers are compared to the older, more basic but good-hearted one that she attends loyally and happily; her main complaint is that the elderly who qualify for caregivers but don’t need them having them standing behind them while they play mahjong ever ready to go out for snacks. We know one who irons the ensemble of the adult son of her elderly charge.

    My tenant can be silenced if the service is expanded to non-bearers of the white card but her position now is basically the position of small landlords. We see people who don’t deserve the benefits and we see government as turning a blind eye because there is nothing in it for their careers and agendas to be fair.

    I can see how this ombudsman of senior centers will shift power and more business into nonprofit advocate hands. I don’t see any interest in actually auditing for transgressions on the user end. If SCRIE is being proposed for market apartments, then that basically regulates those apartments. What about tenants of condo units.

    It’s not blind justice or altruism if these issues aren’t addressed and if the applications are not across the board.

    How would a private homeowner i.e. a voter feel if these rules were applied to their rentals? If this is in the interest of the public, why wouldn’t those tenants be included in the protection?

  • Bullied and Damaged by Rent Re
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