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Paterson Signs Bill Increasing Fines for Tenant Harassment

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Governor Paterson has signed into law a bill that increases fines landlords must pay for harassing tenants. State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who sponsored the legislation, said, “This
law will help put a stop to landlords trying to push tenants out of
rent-stabilized and rent-controlled apartments through endless
harassment.”

Under New York law, landlords in rent regulated buildings are allowed to charge more for apartments when tenants leave. In recent years, as gentrification has spread across the Lower East Side and Chinatown, there have been more reports of landlords trying to force tenants out through unscrupulous means. Silver said he proposed the law in response to "complaints
from constituents about landlords withholding necessary repairs, filing
frivolous litigation for non-payment of rent and verbally harassing
tenants."

The new law increases fines to $2,000 for a first offense and up to $10,000 for additional offenses. It also increases penalties for landlords who violate orders
issued by the Division of Housing and Community Renewal to $1,000 for a
first violation and $2,000 for additional violations.

This bill was one element of a sweeping package of rent reform proposals the Assembly passed during the last session. Due to the Senate quagmire, the other reforms did not make it out of the Senate. Silver called the new law a good first step but added, “I strongly believe New
York’s one million rent-stabilized apartments will not be fully protected
until we end vacancy decontrol
and truly strengthen New York’s rent laws.”


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