Mayor and Council sign bill to prevent construction harassment
By Lori Ann Doyon
Thanks to the persistence of Stand for Tenant Safety (STS) (a grassroots coalition that includes tenants, community organizations, and legal advocates) all but one of the dozen bills that protect tenants from predatory landlords were finally signed into law by the
NYC Council and Mayor de Blasio in August. All twelve bills in the “Legislative Platform to Reform DOB” address an improvement of protocols to the Department of Buildings (DOB). These would offer better protections against landlords who would use construction and other illegal practices to intimidate their rent regulated tenants to move out, thereby leaving a vacant apartment with market rate potential.
The council signed the bills on August 9th. The Mayor took pen to paper on August 30th.
Council Member Antonio Reynoso states his district is “Ground Zero when it comes to tenant harassment through construction.” On the day of the council signing the STS bill he said, “We were asking what laws are there to protect these tenants from this harassment and there were just no laws that were sufficient enough. Laws that have teeth could actually hold people accountable. And today we’re going to see these laws get passed through the City Council.”
The one bill that is still in question was sponsored by Council Member Stephen Levin. This bill has a real time enforcement unit so that when the Dept. of Buildings is notified that hazardous work (without a permit) is being done that threatens the life of the building’s tenants a response will come within hours. “Keep the faith, I expect that this bill will be passing the next stage and the one after that but I’m so proud of all of you. You guys have made this happen, you have raised these issues to the highest level, and you deserve a lot of the credit, all of the credit,” Levin said to STS members the day the other bills were signed.
When the Mayor de Blasio signed the bill on August 30, members of UNO (United Neighbors Organization) who are a part of STS received eleven pens representing the eleven bills they influenced. “This is the easy point, signing the bill. The hard part was all the organizing against the odds. So I want to express my tremendous respect for the Stand for Tenant Safety Coalition. I want to congratulate you all. This coalition, this is your day. This is your day of victory. This is a day to acknowledge your hard work and I want to name some of the organizations that are with us today who are a part of that coalition and thank them for their great work. Thanks to the Cooper Square Committee! Thanks to St. Nicks Alliance! United Neighbors Organization! The Urban Justice Center Community Development Project, Brooklyn Legal Services Corporation A , Goddard Riverside Law Project, Housing Conservation Coordinators, and the Urban Homesteading Assistance Board,” said Mayor de Blasio.