Assembly Passes Legislation to Protect Tenants From Unscrupulous Landlords

Speaker Carl Heastie and Codes Committee Chair Joseph R. Lentol today announced the Assembly has passed legislation to protect New Yorkers from unscrupulous landlords seeking to force rent regulated tenants out of their homes (A.6188, Lentol).

“No New Yorker should have to endure harassment by their landlord in their own home,” Speaker Heastie said. “The Assembly Majority is committed to protecting the rights of tenants, and ensuring that hard working New Yorkers are not subjected to impaired living conditions at the hands of their landlords seeking to force them out.”

“It’s time for the state to strengthen the law against landlords who purposely impose vile and offensive living conditions on tenants for the sole purpose of forcing people to leave their rent regulated apartments,” Assemblymember Lentol said. “My bill will help crack down on tactics that often involve the demolition or outright destruction of living space that unnecessarily puts at risk the health and wellbeing of tenants who want to remain in an apartment that they can afford.”

Today’s legislation would protect renters from the actions of unscrupulous landlords seeking to force a rent regulated tenant out of their housing by creating or maintaining the housing in a condition that endangers safety or interferes with or disturbs the comfort, repose, or peace and quiet of the tenant. The bill would establish a new misdemeanor tenant harassment offense that eliminates the need to prove physical injury to the tenant, and thus expands upon the existing felony crime.

As affordable housing in New York becomes increasingly scarce, landlords that can force rent regulated tenants out of their homes are often rewarded by the market. But under the current law, a prosecutor must not only prove that the offending landlord intended to cause the tenant to vacate their home, he or she also must prove that the tenant sustained physical injury due to the landlord’s actions and that the landlord actually intended to cause such injury. The current law sets the bar so high that not a single landlord has ever been convicted of that crime.