City Council Approves 11 Tenant Protection Bills

Photo via City Council member Rosie Mendez's Twitter feed.

Photo via City Council member Rosie Mendez’s Twitter feed.

The City Council yesterday approved 11 bills meant to combat harassment of rent stabilized tenants. The legislative package was championed by a coalition known as Stand for Tenant Safety, which includes several Lower East Side member organizations.

Among the proposals winning Council approval:

–A “Safe Construction Bill of Rights,” legislation sponsored by local Council member Rosie Mendez. It requires landlords to notify tenants before undertaking significant renovation projects.

–A bill from Lower East Side Council member Margaret Chin that requires the Department of Buildings to audit 25% of professionally certified applications for rent regulated buildings and affordable housing projects.

Other bills make it easier for tenants to prove harassment, prevent landlords from visiting apartments at off hours without permission and make it possible for victims of harassment to recover damages and reasonable attorney fees.

In a statement, Council member Mendez said, “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.”

Council member Chin said, “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.”

Local groups that are part of the Stand for Tenant Safety Coalition include: Cooper Square Committee, Asian Americans for Equality, CAAAV and Good Old Lower East Side.