The Real Deal New York

Key tool for reigning in negligent landlords loses its punch

December 05, 2013 04:52PM

An enforcement tool known as the 7A program, named for an article of the New York State Real Property Actions and Proceedings law that authorizes the city to take control of a run-down building and transfer its management to someone else, is losing its heft as housing court judges become increasingly reluctant to grant the status.

Though housing violations in New York City remain a problem, an economy on the upswing, along with access to cheap financing, puts landlords in a better position and encourages them to stave off 7A, City Limits reported.

“They can get a mortgage worth more than the building’s real business value and do enough work to keep the city off their backs,” said John Reilly, executive director of Fordham Bedford Housing Corporation, a northwest Bronx nonprofit. “They are not making much off running the building; they make it off the refinancing and sales.”

The Department of Housing Preservation and Development has other programs at the ready to aid residents of troubled buildings, including the Proactive Preservation Initiative, launched in 2011 to focus on 500 troubled properties. The program “targets ‘at-risk’ buildings in an attempt to prevent them from reaching a state of extreme disrepair,” Eric Bederman, HPD spokesman, told City Limits. He said that 7As “can do a lot for a troubled property, but it’s not the sole tool in trying to help those properties.”

Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, who represents the Bronx neighborhoods of Riverdale, Kingsbridge, Norwood, Woodlawn and Wakefield, introduced legislation that calls for handing over buildings in which owners neglect repairs for more than 60 days to “qualified landlords” in the wake of a Woodlawn fire that killed a young boy in 2012. The measure has regularly passed the Assembly with unanimous bipartisan report, but has not managed to make it through the Republican-controlled Senate. [City Limits]Julie Strickland