City Council Overwhelmingly Passes Member Rosenthal’s “Office of Tenant Advocate” & 17 Other Bills Targeting Tenant Harassment

NEW YORK — The City Council overwhelmingly passed 18 bills today that provide greater protections for tenants against harassment and unsafe conditions.

Among the bills is Council Member Helen Rosenthal’s Intro. 1523, which would create an Office of the Tenant Advocate within the Department of Buildings. This office would be responsible for monitoring Tenant Protection Plans and responding to complaints and questions from tenants about construction issues.

Council Member Rosenthal’s Office of the Tenant Advocate bill and other legislation passed today are aimed specifically at ending construction as a form of harassment, where a landlord uses unsafe and disruptive construction to force tenants from their homes.

Construction as harassment is a growing problem on the Upper West Side and throughout New York City.

“The Office of the Tenant Advocate represents an end to business as usual at the Department of Buildings,” said Council Member Rosenthal today.

“While many at DOB do important work on behalf of tenants, the bureaucracy just isn’t in place to make tenants’ voices heard. This bill will change that, giving tenants a dedicated watchdog and workhorse on their behalf. Thank you to the Speaker and to my colleagues for their support.”

Also of note — eleven of the 18 bills passed today make up the “Stand for Tenant Safety” package, a historic effort driven by tenant organizations across the city to fight for comprehensive reform.

The Stand for Tenant Safety package includes Intro. 944, written by Council Member Rosenthal, which would impose additional penalties for performing construction work without a permit and increase oversight for buildings where such work has been performed. In addition, it would require that work permits posted at a construction site indicate whether the building is occupied.

“I’m so inspired by the advocates who have spent years fighting to make the Stand for Tenant Safety package of reforms possible–this is their victory,” said Council Member Rosenthal.

“This legislation represents a sweeping reform to the Department of Buildings, and it will make a major impact in the lives of tenants across the city. Congratulations to the entire Stand for Tenant Safety coalition and to all my colleagues on the Council who have taken this cause up.”

Also in the group of 18, Council Member Rosenthal’s Intro. 347, which would allow Housing Court judges to award damages to tenants who bring successful harassment claims against their landlord.

The 18 bills passed today feature an expanded and more accurate definition of tenant harassment in general, making it easier for tenants to hold unscrupulous landlords accountable. Collectively, the legislation reforms the Department of Buildings and changes its bureaucratic processes to put tenant safety first.

More information about the bills can be found here.

Among the 18 bills passed by the City Council today, the three bills written by Council Member Rosenthal are:

•Intro. 1523, which would create an Office of the Tenant Advocate within the Department of Buildings.

•Intro. 944, a part of the Stand for Tenant Safety package, which would impose additional penalties for performing construction work without a permit and increase oversight for buildings where such work has been performed.

•Intro. 347, which would allow Housing Court judges to award damages to tenants who bring successful harassment claims against their landlord.

 

Copyright © 2015 Office of Council Member Helen Rosenthal, All rights reserved.

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