NEW YORK — New York Mayor Bill de Blasio has signed 18 pieces of legislation cracking down on tenant harassment. The new laws solidify New York City’s commitment to tenants against landlord harassment, including by making it easier for tenants to take abusive property owners to court, increasing penalties and enforcing against dangerous and illegal construction. Together, the bills will help keep families safe and help them stay in their homes and the neighborhoods they helped build.
“Tenant harassment is among the most malicious side effect of New York City’s economic boom. As we continue to work to protect tenants and to preserve and build affordable housing, we will not hesitate to crack down on abusive landlords. I thank all our partners who worked so hard to get these bills passed, from the Speaker and the entire City Council, to tenants and tenant advocates across this great City,” said Mayor de Blasio.
Besides these bills, Mayor de Blasio signed legislation earlier this month that provides all low-income tenants facing eviction with free legal representation in Housing Court. The program, which is overseen by the Civil Justice Coordinator at the Human Resources Administration, will serve 400,000 tenants when it is fully implemented in five years. To ensure that tenants know their rights and have access to these protections, the City’s Public Engagement Unit and the Human Resources Administration will add these anti-harassment tools to their outreach in vulnerable communities.
Tenants are encouraged to call 311 for free legal assistance if they are experiencing harassment or facing eviction.
The bills include are Intro. 347-B, which allows Housing Court judges to award tenants damages; Intro. 1133 requires the Department of Buildings to withhold permits when property owners owe more than $25,000 in unpaid violations; Intro. 1530 partially shifts the harassment burden of proof to the landlord; Intro. 1548 expands the definition of harassment, to include repeated contact at unusual hours; Intro. 1549 allows tenants to sue landlords for harassment based on repeated disruption of essential services and landlord-initiated lawsuits against other tenants for frivolous reason in the same building; Intro. 1556 increases minimum civil penalties for tenant harassment.
A second package of bills Intro. 918-A, 924-A, 926-A, 930-A, 931-B, 936-A, 938-A, 939-A, 940-A, 944-A, 1523-A, and 960-A, targets construction as tenant harassment and is the result of organizing work done by the Stand for Tenant Safety Coalition.