The Real Deal New York

REBNY blasts unsafe-buildings bill

Legislation would require landlords to put relocation funds in escrow while repairs are made
January 29, 2015 01:32PM

The Real Estate Board of New York has attacked a bill supported by many tenant advocates that would require landlords to put tenant relocation funds into escrow while repairs to unsafe buildings are made.

REBNY claims the measure would unfairly harm landlords. Councilwoman Margaret Chin, who wrote the bill, will hold a press conference today on the steps of City Hall to renew the push for passage of the legislation.

The bill would require property owners to put 10 percent of a property’s rent-roll over a five-year period in escrow while repairs are made.

“There are real issues with unlawful tenant displacement and we support enforcing existing regulations that provide appropriate legal tenant protections,” REBNY president Steven Spinola told Capital New York. “However, this legislation would create a tremendous burden on all residential buildings rather than focusing on bad actors, and does nothing to address when vacate orders are issued, when they are lifted or how H.P.D. services are allocated.”

Last year, the real estate board flagged the bill — along with eight others — as being counter-productive to Mayor Bill De Blasio’s affordable housing plan.

The Department of Housing Preservation and Development can already go after landlords for relocation costs when buildings are vacated due to hazardous living conditions. They are not currently required to set aside the funds in advance of relocation, however.

The aim of the bill, Chin says, is to discourage landlords from purposely neglecting or destroying buildings to drive rent-regulated tenants out. The De Blasio administration has not taken a stance on the legislation. [Capital NY] — Tess Hofmann