Councilwoman Chin Pushes Legislation Forcing Landlords to Pay Temporary Housing for Displaced Tenants

Posted on: February 3rd, 2015 at 10:15 am by

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128 Hester Street, circa August 2009

Last September, City Council passed a bill that not only doubles fines for landlords found guilty of harassment, but also publicly shames them online. Henceforth, the worst offenders are listed as such on the HPD website. Its passage was seen as a win for tenants even though it’s unlikely to have an effect. Now Margaret Chin is again on the offensive, twisting the proverbial knife.

The councilwoman has renewed her push for “Intro. 3,” legislation that requires these malicious owners to cover temporary housing costs for displaced tenants in the event renovations result in a vacate order. Shifting more of the financial burden from the HPD to landlords. 128 Hester Street comes to mind, of course. A rent regulated building that was destabilized and later demolished due to construction of the Wyndham Garden hotel.

Intro. 3 was first introduced by Chin on February 4, 2014. The bill, if it passes, would allow HPD to require landlords to put money in escrow—equal to at least ten percent of their building’s rent roll for the five years preceding a vacate order—to fund said relocation.

“By allowing the City to more directly and immediately hold landlords accountable for the cost of temporary housing for displaced tenants, Intro. 3 would protect tenants and affordable housing in New York City,” Chin noted in a statement.

“This bill would be a powerful step forward in deterring bad landlords from neglecting their rent-regulated buildings just to get vacate orders that push tenants out and pave the way for luxury housing.”

The only question remaining is whether these legislative maneuvers have any teeth when building owners and developers have such deep pockets. We’re leaning toward the negative on that one.

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