New York CIty Council Member Ben Kallos

Stand for Tenant Safety Testifies for Passage of Legislative Package, Endorsed by Progressive Caucus, to End Construction as Harassment

New York, NY – Tenants and advocates with the Stand for Tenant Safety (STS) Coalition will testify at a hearing today beginning at 10 AM for five of the twelve bills in the STS legislative package which aims to reform the NYC Department of Buildings (DOB). The STS Coalition is a citywide alliance of grassroots tenant organizations and legal service groups collaborating with the Progressive Caucus and the eleven City Council prime sponsors to push for greater protection for tenants, especially in regards to the use of construction as harassment by landlords.

The five bills that will be heard at the Committee on Housing and Buildings hearing encompass:

·         Construction Task Force (Intro 0926): This bill would create a task force on construction work in occupied multiple dwellings.

·         Building Code Violations (Intro 0931): This bill would provide that building code violations adjudicated before Environmental Control Board would constitute tax liens on the property.

·         Tenant Protection Plans (Intro 0936): This bill amends information required in tenant protection plans (TPP) and prescribes measures to ensure compliance with the TPP.

·         Permit Oversight (Intro 0938): This bill requires increased oversight of construction contractors who have engaged in work without a required permit.

·         Construction Bill of Rights (Intro 0960): This bill creates a safe construction bill of rights.

These bills together give tenants better protection from dangerous construction and help DOB to enforce already existing laws. Without these bills, unscrupulous landlords can use loopholes in the city’s enforcement to create hazardous construction conditions to push tenants out of their homes.

"Construction as harassment continues to be a huge problem in our communities. 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 Council Member Antonio Reynoso, co-chair of the Progressive Caucus.

"The Stand for Tenant Safety legislative package sets out to correct the behavior of the worst landlords, who will face the threat of foreclosure if they fail to fix long-ignored repairs," said Council Member Ben Kallos, Vice Chair for Policy of the Progressive Caucus. "For too long some landlords and building owners have neither fixed reoccurring problems on their properties nor paid the fines that go along with those violations, putting tenants in unsafe conditions sometimes for years on end."

"Tenant harassment, which often comes in the form of illegal or unscrupulous construction work, robs New Yorkers of their homes and exacerbates the city’s affordable housing crisis. This month, the City Council is reviewing several critical bills – collectively called Stand for Tenant Safety – designed to ensure that the Department of Buildings will prevent abusive construction work and serve New York City tenants, not just owners and contractors. The Stand for Tenant Safety bill package will ultimately make it easier to hold abusive landlords accountable and help tenants protect their homes,” said Council Member Helen Rosenthal, Vice-Chair for Budget Advocacy of the Progressive Caucus.

“As the lead sponsors of another part of this vital DOB reform package, we are pleased that these five bills are moving forward,” said Council Members Margaret S. Chin and Carlos Menchacamembers of the Progressive Caucus, who jointly introduced Intro 918, a bill to fix a flawed inspection system favoring landlords at the expense of tenants. “Unfortunately, for far too many New Yorkers, the problem of tenant harassment and displacement by landlords is only getting worse. We are proud to join a growing number of Council colleagues, advocates and tenants to demand action to protect the quality of life of residents and to keep families in their homes.”

“Far too many try to bypass, bend, and break the law in pursuit of profit,” said Council Member Stephen Levin, member of the Progressive Caucus. “We cannot and will not allow unscrupulous landlords to take advantage of our community. This package of bills goes to lengths to provide tenants the protections they deserve. I’m proud to continue advancing the work of the Stand for Safety Coalition, and I look forward to real progress for New Yorkers everywhere.”

“No New Yorker should live in fear of being preyed upon in their own home,” said Council Member Mark Levine, member of the Progressive Caucus. “The legislation we are hearing today, including my bills on harassment and tenant protection from construction, would take the critical steps necessary to protect vulnerable tenants while also making it easier for them to take legal action against abusive landlords. 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.”

"We must root out the bad landlords who use construction to harass and remove their tenants," said Council Member Dan Garodnick. "That's why I wrote the bill creating an inter-agency task force to better identify and eradicate the nightmare of construction harassment. This is a long-overdue measure that will protect and strengthen tenants, communities, and our city.

“I am proud to stand with the STS Coalition and my Council colleagues. For far too long some of the city’s worst property owners have used devious, despicable tactics, as well as construction renovations to harass and intimidate tenants. Tenants living in buildings that are undergoing substantial construction usually do not know where to turn,” said Councilwoman Rosie Mendez. “Therefore, ‘Safe Construction Bill of Rights’ legislation would require landlords to provide tenants prior notice of significant construction projects and periodic updates about the status of such construction projects. If DOB wants to right a wrong, then the agency must stand with us to initiate reforms that will ensure that construction is safe with tenants in residency and that tenants get the help they need.  The intent of this legislative package is to make New York City the best and safest place to live, work, and play.  I believe that is something worth working for.”

"Tenants must be safe in their homes and our city must continue to fight against unscrupulous landlords, said NYC Council Member Rafael Espinal. “This package of bills brings us one step closer to holding landlords accountable and protecting our tenants in every neighborhood throughout the city of New York."

"The Stand for Tenant Safety Coalition applauds Council Member Williams for holding this Housing and Buildings Committee hearing on this legislation. For far too long landlords have used aggressive and disruptive construction as a means to harass long term, rent stabilized tenants. This legislation will provide the Department of Buildings with stronger tools to protect tenants against "construction as harassment,” said Rolando Guzman on behalf of the Stand for Tenant Safety Coalition.



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