Public Advocate To Introduce Worst Landlord Accountability Legislation

October 15th, 2020

Press Release

NEW YORK: Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams will introduce legislation today as part of the Worst Landlord Accountability Act, to combat the practices of some of the worst landlords in New York City and support tenants in need of relief and repairs. Each year, the Public Advocate's office releases the Worst Landlord Watchlist, which 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, drafted in response to the current Watchlist, are aimed at correcting and preventing disingenuous tactics used by some of those landlords in order to attempt to remove themselves from the list.

"In putting together the Worst Landlord Watchlist, we found far too many instances of landlords failing to live up to their most basic responsibilities of being a steward for the housing of renters who call New York home," said the Public Advocate in introducing the Worst Landlord Accountability Act. "In case after case, violation after unchecked violation, bad actors demonstrated an inability or an unwillingness to live up to their end of the bargain - and it's past time to put in place meaningful reforms to not just call out these actions, but to put a stop to them. This legislation is about preventing landlords from evading accountability and protecting their tenants from conditions which are physically unsafe or otherwise insecure."

Within the current system, landlords are often able to self-certify their own repairs without city verification. Today the Public Advocate introduced legislation, Intro 2121, which would require the Department of Housing Preservation and Development to maintain a certification of correction list and prohibit any listed landlord from certifying correction of violations in multiple dwellings without an inspection. This would prevent landlords already identified as bad actors from falsely claiming repairs have been made.

The bill would also increase penalties for failure to correctly certify. A landlord who fails to file a statement of registration or an amendment of a statement of registration will have to pay a fine of anywhere between $500 and $1,000. Anyone willfully making a false certification of correction of a violation will have to pay between $500 and $2,500 for each violation falsely certified, as well as to any other penalties required. Additionally, penalties would increase for hazardous violation of housing standards based on severity.

The Public Advocate also introduced legislation which would mandate more urgent action to respond to housing violations deemed immediately hazardous. Intro 2122 would require the city's department of Housing Preservation and Development to communicate with a complainant reporting Class C violations within 12 hours, and perform an inspection, if warranted, within 24 hours. HPD would also have to communicate regarding Class B violations within 24 hours, and perform an inspection within 48 hours. No violation can be closed until it has been certified to be corrected to the satisfaction of HPD.

Addressing unsafe conditions quickly is essential to tenant safety and housing security. This new timeline would increase the efficiency and effectiveness of HPD, thereby reassuring tenant confidence. It would give landlords a shorter window within which to ignore repairs, thereby deterring negligence.

Following the release of the 2019 Worst Landlord Watchlist, his first since taking office, the Public Advocate vowed to pursue legislative and organizing based solutions to improve building conditions, strengthen tenants rights, and remove landlords from the list by correcting their actions.

"Tenants & Neighbors applauds New York City Public Advocate, Jumaane Williams for putting forth this timely and pertinent piece of legislation. If the New York City Council passes the Worst Landlord Accountability Act, it will greatly improve housing conditions for thousands of New York City renters who are forced to live in substandard and often unhealthy apartments. The Worst Landlord Accountability Act, if enacted into law will be an additional tool in our organizing tool box, especially, at a time like this when New Yorkers are being encouraged to spend more time at home to reduce COVID-19 infections," said Yolande Cadore, Executive Director, New York State Tenants & Neighbors. "Forcing tenants to stay-at-home in poor living conditions should not be tolerated and this bill is a giant step in the right direction to protect tenants and keep every New York City resident safe and healthy. The time to hold "egregiously negligent" landlords accountable is long overdue."

"The City of New York can and must do more to hold landlords who serially harass and displace tenants accountable. This legislation is a strong step forward to making the Worst Landlords List a formidable tool to do just that. Thank you to Public Advocate Jumaane Williams for always standing on the side of tenants, and fighting for what is right," said Cea Weaver, Campaign Manager, Housing Justice for All Coalition.

Our Office

David N. Dinkins Municipal Building
1 Centre Street 15th Floor North
New York, NY 10007


Hotline: (212) 669-7250

Fax: (888) 409-0287*

Text: (833) 933-1692

*Our fax number has changed temporarily while we upgrade our infrastructure
© 2024 Copyright: Office of the New York City Public Advocate
Privacy Policy