It may soon get easier to hit landlords with criminal harassment charges

Senate bill awaits governor's approval
April 11, 2019 04:00PM

State Senator Liz Krueger (Credit: Getty Images)

State Senator Liz Krueger (Credit: Getty Images)

The state Senate on Wednesday approved legislation that would make it easier for rent-regulated tenants to file criminal harassment charges against their landlords.

The legislation — dubbed the Tenant Protection Act of 2019 — would create a misdemeanor level offense for tenant harassment, defined as actions that are intended to push the tenant out. Currently, the threshold for bringing charges is much higher: Tenants must prove that harassment led to physical harm.

“As the law stands now, it is nearly impossible for criminal charges to be filed against even the worst offenders,” state Senator Liz Krueger, who represents the Upper East Side and is a sponsor of the legislation, told Curbed. “It is high time this law was updated to protect tenants and give them a fighting chance, and to safeguard our dwindling stock of affordable housing.”

Under the new bill, misdemeanor harassment includes actions that make the apartment uninhabitable, unsafe and/or disturb the “comfort, repose, peace or quiet” of the tenant’s living experience. The bill still needs to be signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

In the fall, the city released what it described as a “predatory landlord watch list.” [Curbed] — Kathryn Brenzel