Formation of the 'Tenant Anti-Harassment Unit'
In keeping with the theme of 2018, Mayor Bill DeBlasio announced last month the formation of the 'Tenant Anti-Harassment Unit' which will be dedicated to pursuing potential cases of maintenance harassment in multi-family residential buildings and connecting tenants to legal services resources, which will complement the city's efforts against construction as harassment.
"If there's a bad landlord out there who thinks they can get over on their tenants and get over on the City of New York, they are sorely mistaken because we are beefing up enforcement further" said DeBlasio. "We have the backs of tenants as we continue to ensure that New York City is the fairest city in America."
The newly minted unit will have ten dedicated staff, including two attorneys to initiate civil harassment cases against what the city terms unscrupulous owners and landlords at a cost of $1 million a year. The new unit will allow HPD to increase the number of buildings with potential construction or maintenance harassment that HPD inspect from 200 buildings annually to approximately 1,500 buildings.
The constant passage of new laws and regulations further increases the need for a landlord to develop a comprehensive construction plan prior to undergoing even a minor construction project. Failure to properly do so not only puts the landlord at risk of drawing the attention and scrutiny of the 'Tenant Anti-Harassment Unit,' but also one of the many other units which have recently been formed by the DeBlasio administration to protect the rights of tenants.
Almost exactly one year to the day since signing 18 pieces of litigation focusing on tenant harassment protection, the DeBlasio administration has continued to enact a greater measure of oversight on the activities of landlords. Over the past few months alone we have seen the expansion of the certificate of non-harassment laws, the establishment of the Predatory Equity Bill and now the formation of the Tenant Anti-Harassment Unit. This further reinforces the need for landlords to continuously adapt and modify their business practices in this climate of constant change.