City Gets Bad Grades on Pro-Tenants’ Laws Implementation

Johana Ibarra, a Lower Manhattan building resident, asked the city for more action against abusive landlords. (Photo via El Diario)

In 2017, the City Council approved a legislative package seeking to protect New York against the use of such illegal tactics as construction work by landlords seeking to harass, intimidate, frustrate and ultimately remove vulnerable tenants.

Although on paper the initiatives promised to be useful tools to guarantee tenants’ rights, the city’s implementation has been patchy, according to a report card unveiled on Thursday by the City Council’s Progressive Caucus and the Stand for Tenant Safety (STS) coalition. The report is the result of an analysis of the implementation of 12 new laws, as well as an additional law about the creation of a tenants’ advocate.

“This new report card details what we’ve already been hearing from residents throughout our districts – the city is not providing the enforcement we need for our tenant protections laws to be effective,” said Council member Carlina Rivera, who represents Lower Manhattan, an area where tenants’ complaints of construction work in their buildings abound.

“It’s been two years since these game-changing laws passed, and still a third of these measures received a D or F grade for enforcement. That is unacceptable, and I call on this administration to provide the resources our tenants need, including providing higher staffing levels for the Real Time Enforcement Unit and the Office of the Tenant Advocate.”

(…) “We passed these laws to ensure repeat offenders who don’t pay fines were punished. It is a shame that a year later the city is yet to begin implementing these laws,” said Ben Kallos, co-chair of the Council’s Progressive Caucus. (…)

“Construction as harassment is widespread in New York City, and the [Department of Buildings] must take the lead in protecting tenants against predatory landlords,” said Helen Rosenthal, member of the Progressive Caucus.

The new laws include reforms on practices in the departments of Buildings and Finance, including a tenants’ protection office, and a Real Time Enforcement Unit, as well as an increase in fees and penalties for bad landlords. However, only two laws obtained an A grade, and another two a B. Of the remaining laws, five got a C grade, two a D and another two got an F.

Johana Ibarra, a Lower Manhattan building resident, asked the city for more action against abusive landlords.

“We have been living for more than 20 years in this apartment, and the landlord is not fulfilling his responsibilities and has abused us, so it would be good to have more protections,” she said.

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