The New York City Council introduced three bills Monday that aim to provide greater protection to tenants at risk of being illegally evicted.
The three pieces of legislation target so-called predatory equity landlords, DNAinfo reported. The term refers to landlords who buy buildings at high prices in the hope they will earn back the money once the rent-stabilized or rent-controlled units are de-regulated. Advocates say tenants in these types of buildings are particularly vulnerable to being pushed out.
If these bills become law, the Department of Housing Preservation and Development would have to record and publish a watch list of building owners who have a history of engaging in practices associated with predatory equity landlords (a high debt-to-income ratio, high levels of turnover, tenant harassment, among others). A second bill would give greater credibility to tenants who live in buildings with high debt-to-income ratio if they allege harassment in housing court. The third bill would expand the city’s ability to foreclose and sell buildings where owners have incurred high numbers of unsatisfied building violations.
The bills were introduced by Council members Ben Kallos, Dan Garodnick, Jumaane Williams and Ritchie Torres.
The HPD opposes key elements of the proposed legislation.
“Not all owners who enter into overly optimistic or poor investments intend to, or do, disrupt the lives of tenants or engage in bad behavior. And even owners who intend to try to convert rent-regulated units to higher rents may stop short of engaging in harassment, neglect or other displacement tactics,” HPD’s Vito Mustaciuolo said at a recent City Council hearing.
He also said that tracking financial information of so-called predatory equity landlords would be a financial burden “and would be limited by data constraints, regulatory and jurisdictional complications, and the perils of predicting real estate markets in general.” [DNAinfo] — Miriam Hall