The Real Deal New York

De Blasio creates new tenant protection office, says city will seize buildings from “the worst landlords”

Office to Protect Tenants will have an annual budget of $450,000 and will help DOB, HPD and others work together
January 10, 2019 12:30PM

Mayor Bill de Blasio (Credit: Getty Images)

In his sixth annual State of the City speech, Mayor Bill de Blasio on Thursday morning exclaimed that the city would seize the buildings of the “worst landlords.” He did not explain how such a thing would — or could — be done, but the statement followed an earlier an announcement that a new city office would coordinate tenant protection efforts between separate housing and building agencies.

Politico reported that the Office of Tenant Protection will launch before the end of the year, have five employees and receive an operating budget of $450,000.

Jane Meyer, a spokesperson for City Hall, said the new office will analyze city data and tenant complaints to help step up enforcement efforts, and will also meet with tenant groups on a quarterly basis.

The announcement follows the creation of other municipal offices dedicated to tenant issues in recent years, including the Tenant Harassment Prevention Task Force and the Department of Buildings’ Office of Tenant Advocate, the latter of which was signed into law in 2017, but did not become operational until June of last year, according to a quarterly report.

In November, Democrats in the City Council have introduced 18 new bills that would restrict landlords’ abilities to change tenancies and extract more rent from building residents. Many of the bills aim to increase oversight “construction harassment,” or construction activity that is done in such a way that encourages tenants to leave their homes as buildings become increasingly uninhabitable. [Politico NY] — Will Parker