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Landlords Beware: The Proposal of the New Harassment Rule

Real Estate Legality

New York City’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) has proposed new rules requiring landlords of certain buildings to acquire a certificate of no harassment from the HPD before the Department of Buildings (DOB) can approve permits for construction. This would include any demolitions, alterations, additions or removals of kitchens or bathrooms, changes in the building layout, increasing or decreasing units, replacement certain heating systems and for an application for a new or amended certificate of occupancy.[1] The legislation, which would “clarify” Local Law 1, would require “certain buildings with high levels of physical distress or ownership changes … in certain targeted areas of the City, to be placed on a building list.”[2] During the pilot program the targeted areas include: Bushwick, Bedford-Stuyvesant, Highbridge, Grand Concourse, East Harlem and neighborhoods rezoned by the City.[3]

Once building owners apply for the certificate of no harassment with the HPD, it will initiate an investigation to determine whether tenants have been harassed by the building owner in the past five years from the time the application is submitted. In the proposal, the HPD explains that, “[i]f an owner is found to have harassed tenants, the owner will be precluded from receiving a building permit for the covered categories of work for five years, or, in the alternative, the owner may construct a certain percentage of low income housing units to address the harassment finding.”[4]

What constitutes as harassment? The proposal refers back to subdivision 48 of section 27-2004 of the Administrative Code, which defines harassment as an act or omission by the landlord who causes or intends to cause a person lawfully entitled to occupancy to vacate or to waive or surrender their rights to such occupancy. The provision precludes landlords from using force, making threats and discontinuing services in an attempt to make a tenant vacate their apartment.[5]

City Councilman Brad Lander explained that this development is important in protecting tenants. “Once a tenant is driven out, a landlord can make significant renovations, or demolish and rebuild, and then dramatically raise rents.”[6] This program aims to deter this behavior. The Department of Housing Preservation and Development will hold a public hearing at 10:00am on August 7, 2018 at 100 Gold Street, New York. For more details go here.[7]

[1] Available at: https://www1.nyc.gov/assets/hpd/downloads/pdf/agency-rulemaking/conh-pilot-program-bill-proposed-%20rules.pdf. Accessed on July 6, 2018. pp.4-5.

[2] Id. p.2.

[3] The Real Deal. (July 3, 2018) “City Moves Forward with New Tenant Harassment Rule.” The Real Deal. Available at: https://therealdeal.com/2018/07/03/city-moves-forward-with-new-tenant-harassment-rule/. Accessed on July 6, 2018.

[4] Op. Cit. n1.

[5] Available at: https://www1.nyc.gov/assets/buildings/pdf/HousingMaintenanceCode.pdf. Accessed on July 6 2018.

[6] Anuta, J, (July 2, 2018) “City Advancing Rule Aimed at Curbing Tenant Harassment.” Craines New York. Available at: http://www.crainsnewyork.com/article/20180702/REAL_ESTATE/180709993/city-advancing-rule-aimed-at-curbing-tenant-harassment-by-landlords. Accessed on July 6, 2018.

[7] https://www1.nyc.gov/assets/hpd/downloads/pdf/agency-rulemaking/conh-pilot-program-bill-proposed-%20rules.pdf

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