NYC Council Passes Public Advocate’s ‘Worst Landlord Law’ To Prevent Fraudulent Repairs And Increase Penalties For Violations

May 11th, 2023

Press Release

Today the New York City Council voted to pass Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams’ Worst Landlord Law to help prevent fraudulent repairs by bad landlords and increase accountability for failure to correct hazardous violations, including by increasing financial penalties. The bill is part of the Worst Landlord Accountability Act, a two-bill package which comes out of the Public Advocate’s annual Worst Landlord Watchlist.

Within the current system, landlords are often able to self-certify their own repairs without city verification – and frequently, they falsely certify that violations have been corrected. The legislation passed today will restrict bad actors who own the worst buildings in the city from engaging in this deceptive practice.

“"Last year’s Worst Landlord Watchlist saw the most violations in its history as buildings deteriorate and rents rise under landlords who put profit over people,” said Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams ahead of the vote. “They exploit loopholes to shamelessly dodge accountability and avoid repairs, while tenants suffer. Passing this Worst Landlord law will prevent the worst owners in the city from self-certifying repairs that haven’t been made, and increase penalties for failing to fix violations so that fines aren’t just part of the cost of doing business. Our list is designed in part to shame the worst landlords in the city — but for owners who are shameless in their negligence, this law will hold them to account and deliver relief to countless tenants facing unlivable conditions.”

Intro 583-A, which was passed by overwhelming majority today, would increase the penalties for many violations issued by the Department of Housing Preservation and Development related to registration failures, hazardous conditions, and false certification. In addition, HPD would be required to annually identify 100 buildings based on criteria such as the number of hazardous or immediately hazardous violations that have been falsely certified as corrected. Hazardous or immediately hazardous violations issued to buildings on the list would not be deemed corrected unless HPD has attempted at least two re-inspections, or those violations are excluded from the calculation for identifying the 100 buildings.

The Public Advocate's Worst Landlord Watchlist spotlights the top 100 most egregiously negligent landlords in New York City as determined by widespread and repeated violations in buildings on the list. These bills, the second of which would mandate faster inspections and repairs for the most hazardous violations, are aimed at correcting and preventing disingenuous tactics used by some of those landlords in order to remove themselves from the list.

Together, the legislation in the Worst Landlord Accountability Act will help tenants get the repairs they need, make the worst landlords pay for their negligence and deception, and show that there are consequences for the conduct that puts landlords on the Watchlist.

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