Bill would fine commercial landlords for tenant harassment

Current laws focus on residential buildings

From left: Mark Levine and Robert Cornegy
From left: Mark Levine and Robert Cornegy

A bill being set forth in the City Council on Thursday would subject commercial landlords to fines for tenant harassment — a punishment that is currently reserved for residential building owners.

The legislation, sponsored by Council members Robert Cornegy and Mark Levine, would ban landlords from using threats and turning off utilities in order to intimidate tenants out of their leases, according to the New York Daily News.

“Bad-actor commercial landlords have behaved in a way that kind of goes under the radar” and faced “no penalty whatsoever,” Cornegy said.

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“You’ll have a landlord who figures he can get four times the amount for a commercial space that he’s getting now, and someone midway through a 10-year lease, and the landlord doesn’t want to wait. So they’ll force tenants out through neglect and harassment.”

Businesses that are subject to such treatment could be awarded one month’s rent or $1,000 under the proposed law, plus damages and attorney’s fees.

A law passed last year holds that residential landlords who harass tenants could face fines of up to $10,000 — however, no parallel law existed for commercial building owners. [NYDN] — Tess Hofmann

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