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Tenants will get vast new protections against unscrupulous landlords

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The City Council approved a package of 18 bills offering tenants greater protections

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on August 9, 2017 at 10:00 a.m. It has been updated with the most up to date information.

UPDATE 8/9/17: The City Council swiftly approved a package of bills—The Stand for Tenant Safety—at a full Council meeting on Wednesday. Several tenant rights groups and advocates had been protesting on the City Hall steps prior to the vote, and celebrated the City Council’s vote late in the afternoon.

A package of 18 bills looking to provide tenants greater protection from landlord harassment and unsafe conditions is just one vote away from passing. The set of bills, which were first introduced in April this year, will come before the full City Council later today.

Yesterday, the Council’s Committee on Housing and Buildings passed all 18 bills, paving the way for the vote later today. Among the protections tenants will receive if the package of bills is passed today includes:

  • An office of the Tenant Advocate within the Department of Buildings; this will monitor various protection plans for tenants and respond to complaints from tenants about construction problems.
  • One of the bills would impose penalties on construction work carried out without permits; some landlords have started construction on the pretext of making repairs, only to then make the building uninhabitable in an effort to drive out rent-stabilized tenants.
  • Another would classify visits or phone calls from landlords at odd hours as intimidation.

This package of bills was pushed forward by City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, along with council members Mark Levine, Carlos Menchaca, Ritchie Torres, Helen Rosenthal and Jumaane Williams.

“This legislation represents a sweeping reform to the Department of Buildings, and it will make a major impact in the lives of tenants across the city,” Rosenthal said in a statement.

If passed later today, this legislation will follow the bill passed last month, that guarantees legal representation to low-income tenants in housing court.