Predatory investors beware: City is watching rent-regulated properties

New bill will create "Speculation Watch List"

The City Council on Thursday unanimously voted on the “Predatory Equity Bill,” which will create a watch list of rent-regulated buildings where tenants are potentially vulnerable to investors who may want to kick them out.

The legislation requires the Department of Housing Preservation and Development to compile a “Speculation Watch List” of rent-regulated properties with sales prices that are unusually high in comparison to similar sales in the area. City officials feel that such transactions could hint that investors seek to raise rents in the buildings by displacing current tenants.

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HPD will complete the list within the next 10 months and update it quarterly.

The council also passed a duo of tenant harassment bills on Thursday. One changes the definition of harassment to include certain construction code violations, such as failure to fix hazardous conditions at a site. The other requires that certain developers get a certificate of no harassment before the Department of Buildings can issue a permit for renovation or demolition work at the property.

Earlier this year, The Real Deal took a look at the flurry of speculative buying in the Bronx from 2009 to 2016. A majority of the deals identified as speculative were rent stabilized. Council member Ritchie Torres introduced the “Predatory Equity Bill” in 2016.