City Council passes tenant harassment legislation

Measures come in wake of complaints from renters across the city

TRD New York /
Aug.August 14, 2015 11:05 AM

The New York City Council passed legislation that is expected to sharply curtail the practice of landlords using “tenant relocation specialists” to push tenants out of their rent-stabilized apartments.

The bill, sponsored by Council members Jumaane Williams and Dan Garodnick, amends the city Housing Maintenance Code’s definition of tenant harassment, making it unlawful for landlords or hired “tenant relocation specialists” to make tenant buyout offers without notifying residents of their right to refuse the offer.

The changes also require hired tenant relocation specialists, who generally receive a fee for each successful vacancy, to disclose that they are acting on behalf of the landlord. The measures come in wake of complaints from tenants, many of whom are rent regulated, that such buyouts amount to harassment.

“There are too many unscrupulous owners of rent stabilized buildings who will do anything to have a tenant vacate their apartment, including hiring a tenant relocator to get the job done,” Williams said in the statement, adding that tenants “don’t deserve to be intimidated out of their homes.”

Other elements of the City Council package include a measure, sponsored by council speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, that would define repeat buyout offers, made after a tenant has asked for them to stop, as harassment.

Another measure, sponsored by Garodnick and Williams, would create a “licensing scheme” for tenant relocation specialists, who would need to pass an exam before becoming licensed for the job.

Garodnick recently helped secure funding for Stabilizing NYC, a tenant advocacy group that is running a “bad landlords” watch list in the city. — Rey Mashayekhi

Related Articles

REBNY president Jim Whelan (right) and Council member Robert Cornegy (Credit: Getty Images and iStock)

REBNY asks city to help landlords pay for lead abatement

Jumaane Williams (Credit: Getty Images)

Council to vote on bill to curb Mitchell-Lama cheating

Jumaane Williams and Joseph Borelli (Credit: Getty Images, Joseph Borelli)

Real estate donors: Election? What election?

Council member Vanessa Gibson (Credit: New York City Council)

Commercial landlords face new fines as City Council passes anti-harassment bill

Council Members Robert Holden and Keith Powers with images of REBNY’s recently launched social media campaign (Credit: Facebook, New York City Council, REBNY)

Proposal to cap rental brokers’ commission loses steam as 3 sponsors drop out

Speaker of the New York City Council Corey Johnson (Credit: Getty Images and iStock)

City Council approves package of 17 bills to strengthen tenant protections

Jumaane Williams pledges to name-and-shame the “worst landlords.” But he’ll reward others for good behavior

Jumaane Williams pledges to name-and-shame the “worst landlords.” But he’ll reward others for good behavior

Small homeowners are facing hefty fines for short-term rentals

Small homeowners are facing hefty fines for short-term rentals