Certain landlords may soon have to certify that they haven’t harassed their tenants before they are able to secure building permits.
The city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development is considering a rule change that would require landlords of buildings that recently changed hands or are physically distressed to obtain a certificate of no harassment, Crain’s reported. The rule will at first only be applied through a pilot program in Bushwick, Bedford-Stuyvesant, Highbridge, Grand Concourse and East Harlem. The program may also apply, however, to neighborhoods rezoned by the city.
Under the program, building owners have to obtain a certificate of no harassment before receiving building permits for major work, including demolition and renovation. The city can revoke the building permits if officials find that tenants were harassed.
HPD will hold a hearing on the rule change in August.
In November, the City Council passed a bill that created the program, along with legislation that expanded the definition of harassment and one that created a “Speculation Watch List.”
“Unfortunately, for some unscrupulous landlords in New York City, harassing tenants is part of the business plan,” City Council member Brad Lander, who sponsored the certificate of no harassment bill, said in a statement. “Once a tenant is driven out, a landlord can make significant renovations, or demolish and rebuild, and then dramatically raise rents.” [Crain’s] — Kathryn Brenzel