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Bill seeks to protect NYC tenants from landlord harassment

The bill will require landlords in certain parts of the city to obtain no harassment certificates


The City Council is just a few hours away from passing legislation that will further safeguard NYC tenants from landlord harassment. The “Certification of No Harassment” legislation is expected to pass in a City Council vote this afternoon, and will prevent unscrupulous landlords from carrying out repairs and renovations without first obtaining this certificate.

Once it is signed into law, the program will first function as a pilot, primarily focussing on recently rezoned or soon-to-be-rezoned NYC neighborhoods; and other neighborhoods identified as vulnerable by the working group behind this legislation, including Bushwick, Bed-Stuy, and Washington Heights.

“Unfortunately, for some unscrupulous landlords in NYC, harassing tenants is part of the business plan,” said City Council member Brad Lander, who chaired a working group in 2016 that led to the creation of this legislation. “Once a tenant is driven out, a landlord can make significant renovations, or demolish and rebuild, and then dramatically raise rents. The Certification of No Harassment program is a strong new tool to fight that business model.”

Under the new law, building owners who want to demolish or make alternations to their buildings within the identified areas, will have to prove that they haven’t harassed tenants before they can get permits from the city’s Department of Buildings.

When a building owner first applies for this no harassment certificate, the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development (or a designated community organization) will interview current and former tenants to see if there’s been any harassment over the past five years. If HPD determines there’s been harassment, the case will move to the Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings (OATH).

If an OATH judge determines that there’s been harassment, then the owner will be denied building permits for five years unless they make specific guarantees for affordable housing (at least 25 percent of the units).

The legislation already has the support of several other City Council members and community groups, so it is very likely to pass later today.

“No one should have to live in fear of harassment or endure retaliation from their landlord or building owner and this legislation will greatly expand the protections for tenants,” said City Council Speaker, Melissa Mark-Viverito, in a statement.

Curbed will update this post with the verdict from this afternoon’s meeting.