The Progressive Caucus joined housing advocates and legal services providers in support of the Stand for Tenant Safety (STS) Coalition’s legislative package aimed at reforming the NYC Department of Buildings. This term, twelve bills were introduced to strengthen measures to prevent tenant harassment and displacement.
STS is a citywide coalition of organizations joined together with the Caucus and 11 Council Member prime sponsors to push more aggressive preservation policy and address landlords’ use of construction as form of harassment. Full Release
WHAT PROGRESSIVE CAUCUS MEMBERS SAY:
“Construction as harassment continues to be a huge problem in our communities – just this week we stood with tenants being displaced on Franklin Ave. Next week it will be another building and another after that. We are saying that enough is enough and calling on the administration to implement reforms to the Department of Buildings that will help to end this practice,” said Caucus Co-Chair, Council Member Antonio Reynoso.
“In the weeks since we joined our Council colleagues to introduce this comprehensive legislative package to reform the Department of Buildings, the problem of tenant harassment by landlords has only gotten worse. The current system of self-certification by landlords, especially those with a history of tenant harassment, cannot be allowed to continue. Our part of this reform package, Intro 918, will require DOB to do its due diligence on behalf of tenants who have suffered far too long under an inspection system that has favored landlords at the expense of the quality of life of residents. We thank Chair Williams for hearing this important legislation to protect New Yorkers,” said Council Members Margaret Chin and Carlos Menchaca.
“Too often landlords get away with claiming their building has no occupants and forcing tenants to live amidst a gut renovation. Tenants in my district have experienced dangerous conditions, including the removal of an exterior wall, the only stairwell in the building, or a fire escape. Until DOB finds a solution to check every landlord’s claims of “no occupancy,” it remains complicit in the harassment that landlords inflict on tenants. My and Council Member Corey Johnson’s bill will require DOB to post a permit’s occupancy status on the DOB website and on the work permit itself, so tenants can quickly identify any false claims and use this newly available information to pursue a stop work order and proper tenant protections. I am hopeful this greater transparency will keep landlords accountable and tenants safe in their homes,” said Council Member Helen Rosenthal.
“The threat of foreclosure against the worst landlords will finally mean buildings will get the long-ignored repairs residents have been waiting for,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “For too long some landlords and building owners neither fixed reoccurring problems on their properties nor paid the ECB fines that go along with those violations. The legislation being championed by the STS coalition will both improve quality of life in New York City as well as force building owners to engage real problems in this city.”
“Across the city, some unscrupulous landlords are making life miserable for hardworking tenants and we must take action to stop them. It is inhumane and illegal to deny residents essential resources like heat and hot water or to make them endure dangerous building conditions, especially over prolonged periods of time. We need a Real Time Enforcement Unit to enforce construction codes and quickly address tenant reports of building violations and work without a permit. No one should feel at risk in their own home,” said Council Member Stephen Levin.
“Urgent reforms are needed at the Department of Buildings, and these bills are just the beginning of our push. Tenants living under adverse living conditions need a city government that is responsive to their needs and works to prevent the worst abuses committed by unscrupulous landlords. I’m proud to partner with my colleagues and advocates across the five boroughs to stand up for the rights and safety of all New Yorkers,” said Council Member Mark Levine.
“It is incumbent on all of us to ensure that tenants are protected,” said Council Member Corey Johnson. “These bills will broaden and strengthen New York City’s capacity to protect tenants and enforce our housing laws. I’m proud to work with Council Member Rosenthal and the Stand for Tenant Safety coalition to help ensure that tenants will no longer be exposed to unsafe conditions.”