Flushing, NY – Immigrant tenants will have additional protections under the law thanks to legislation passed in the New York City Council today that will amend the definition of harassment to include discriminatory threats and requests for proof of citizenship.

Int. No. 1678B, sponsored by City Council Member Peter Koo, 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 requests for 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, uniformed service, sexual orientation or alienage or citizenship status, status as a victim of domestic violence, status as a victim of sex offenses or stalking, lawful source of income, or because children are, may be or would be residing in the unit,
  • Requesting proof of citizenship after a current government-issued I.D. has already been provided.

CM Koo stated, “The message this legislation sends to bad landlords is clear: if you harass your tenants, or make any threat based on status, you will face consequences. In New York City, we support and stand by our immigrant communities, and this legislation will provide additional protections from harassment. Expanding this definition of harassment allows tenants to bring claims directly against landlords in housing court. And we are making a statement that all are welcome here.”

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

For 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. 1678B is available here: http://on.nyc.gov/2vP5ftS.