City Council Passes Bill to Publicly Shame Landlords Who Harass Tenants
For the most egregious landlords out there, consequences are finally starting to snowball.
City Council is now paying attention to the plight of tenants that must contend with harassment by speculative landlords. Those who make life a living hell in order to boot tenants and raise rents. Countless residents and businesses have allegedly suffered.
To that end, Council Members Margaret Chin and Jumaane D. Williams introduced legislation (Intro No. 129-a) that not only doubles fines for landlords found guilty of harassment, but also would publicly shame them online. According to the bill passed by the Council yesterday, maximum penalty for offenders is increased from $5,000 per residential unit to $10,000 per residential unit. And for those found guilty more than once within a five-year period, the minimum fine is raised from $1,000 per residential unit to $2,000 per residential unit.
The public shaming portion of the legislation will require the offending landlord’s name to be published on the HPD website alongside the address where the harassments transpired.
“We’re setting a new standard for punishing landlords who harass tenants,” said Council Member Margaret Chin, Chair of the Council’s Committee on Aging. “We’re doing it because these types of unethical landlords are ruining lives and killing affordable housing in our communities. Tenant harassment leads to the illegal deregulation of rent-regulated apartments, and it often targets our most vulnerable seniors. Preserving New York City’s affordable and senior housing stock means getting tougher than ever on landlords who engage in this behavior, and that’s exactly what we’ve done today. I look forward to seeing our bill signed into law so it can go to work protecting tenants and affordable housing throughout our city.”
“While there are plenty of landlords across this city who do the right thing by their tenants, we know there are select, consistent bad actors that make life hard in a city where finding quality, affordable housing is a challenge,” said Council Member Jumaane D. Williams, Deputy Leader, Chair of the Council’s Committee on Housing and Buildings. “I am proud to cosponsor a bill that will combat harassment from landlords and will reduce the financial incentive to harass tenants out of their homes by raising violation fines. This bill is not meant to fine landlords the maximum penalty for every violation, but will give judges the discretion to levy the fine against the most egregious bad actors. Today sends a clear message to all landlords that this city will not allow such illegal behavior, and that the New York City Council will serve and protect all tenants throughout the five boroughs.”