NYC makes history with passage of Stand for Tenant Safety Package, which includes CM Chin’s bill to prevent landlord harassment through illegal construction

CITY HALL – Today, the New York City Council voted to pass eleven of the twelve tenants’ rights bills in the Stand for Tenant Safety Package (STS), which includes legislation by Council Member Margaret S. Chin that gives tenants new protections against unscrupulous landlords who use illegal construction to drive low-income residents and their families out of their homes.

“No landlord should get away with harassing low-income residents, working families and seniors on fixed incomes through illegal construction in an attempt to drive them from their homes and their neighborhoods. By requiring our City to set limits on the self-certification of buildings by landlords with a history of tormenting their tenants, our City is wielding a new tool to fight tenant harassment, construction damage, and displacement,” said Council Member Margaret S. Chin, lead sponsor of Intro 918-A. “When landlords put tenants’ lives at risk, it’s more than just a housing issue—it’s a shameless violation of their human rights. I thank the Stand for Tenant Safety advocates, including Cooper Square Committee and the Stop Croman Coalition, as well as my bill co-sponsor, Council Member Menchaca, for working to see this bill through.”

First introduced in 2015 and co-sponsored by Council Member Carlos Menchaca, Intro 918 will require the Department of Buildings (DOB) to institute limits on the overly-abused practice of self-certification of buildings by landlords with a history of harassment, and allow for more DOB oversight of rent-regulated buildings, including buildings subject to a rent overcharge application.

To celebrate the landmark legislative package, City Council leaders joined with tenant advocates like the Stand for Tenant Safety Coalition, Cooper Square Committee, and the Stop Croman Coalition at a rally on the steps of City Hall earlier today.

In 2015, Council Member Chin brought attention to the egregious harassment that tenants of 90 Elizabeth St. had to endure under two predatory landlords. At the time, landlords conducted illegal, dangerous construction work that coated hallways with dust and debris, causing breathing issues, and leaving electric wires exposed without putting up necessary fire prevention measures. When residents complained, the landlord offered buyouts to push them out of their homes. After Council Member Chin worked with tenants and advocacy groups to apply pressure, DOB issued a stop work order — ending the illegal construction used to harass residents.

Council Member Chin’s legislation, along with its companion bills in the Stand for Tenant Safety Package, will further empower the City in the fight against landlords who harass their tenants.