For Immediate Release

Contact: Scott Sieber 718-888-8747

Flushing, NY – City Council Member Peter Koo today introduced legislation that will allow immigrant renters to file harassment claims against landlords who make discriminatory threats or request proof of citizenship.

Int. No. 1678 will amend the definition of harassment under the Housing Maintenance Code to include discriminatory threats and requests for proof of citizenship. Amending this definition will allow tenants to bring harassment claims for such actions in Housing Court.  While harassment claims are already heard through the Human Rights Commission as violations under the Human Rights Law, expanding the harassment definition in the Housing Maintenance Code to include discriminatory threats or request proof of citizenship would also allow tenants to bring harassment claims directly against landlords through housing court.

The bill will update the definition of harassment to include:

  • Threatening any tenants based on age, race, creed, color, national origin, gender, disability, marital status, partnership status, caregiver status, sexual orientation or alienage or citizenship status,
  • Refusing to accept government-issued ID,
  • Requesting citizenship documents when valid ID has already been provided.

CM Koo stated, “The message this legislation sends to bad landlords is clear: if you harass your tenants, you will face consequences. As New Yorkers, we will not stand for harassment against immigrants in any form.  Unfortunately, many immigrants don’t know their rights under the law. By amending the Housing Code’s definition of harassment, we will make it easier for tenants to retaliate against these forms of discrimination by giving them the power to file claims directly against the landlord.”

Landlords convicted of harassment are subject to civil penalties between $1,000 and $10,000.

For nearly two years, CM Koo has partnered with Queens Legal Services to provide monthly free, legal tenant services for residents in his office for residents in his district.

The full text of Int. No. 1678 is available here: http://on.nyc.gov/2vP5ftS