A new law will protect rent-regulated tenants when a landlord attempts to force them out by making their accommodations uninhabitable or purposefully creating or maintaining a condition that risks the safety, health, and comfort of the tenant. In early December, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed Attorney General Letitia James’ program bill, which expands protections for tenants. Previously, the law only provided protections to tenants who could demonstrate physical injury and failed to take into account the conditions caused by the landlord.
“We will ensure that landlords will face justice when they intentionally subject their tenants to unsafe, disruptive, or uninhabitable conditions, such as exposing them to hazardous materials, shutting off heat and hot water, or using construction to make buildings deliberately uninhabitable.”
Attorney General Letitia James.
A landlord engaging in this conduct against one tenant will be guilty of a Class A misdemeanor for harassing a rent-regulated tenant. Where the conduct impacts two or more tenants, a landlord will be guilty of a Class E felony. When a landlord is guilty of multiple convictions for misdemeanor conduct under these new provisions within five years they will be guilty of a Class E felony.
“For far too long, unscrupulous landlords have gotten away with subjecting rent-regulated tenants to dangerous and inhumane conditions in an attempt to force them out of their homes. Tenants will no longer have to meet an unreasonably high bar to demonstrate that they are being harassed. Instead, we will ensure that landlords will face justice when they intentionally subject their tenants to unsafe, disruptive, or uninhabitable conditions, such as exposing them to hazardous materials, shutting off heat and hot water, or using construction to make buildings deliberately uninhabitable,” said Attorney General James.
“The harassment of tenants in order to force them out so the landlord can raise the rent has been a rampant and unconscionable problem,” Assemblymember Joe Lentol said. “This bill takes a stance against landlords who puts profit over people. Many tenants are forced out under the guise of necessary repairs, but this bill will go a long way to protect tenants from such harassment and help keep individuals and families in their home.”
“Safe and affordable housing is a fundamental right, and we are proud to have enacted the most aggressive tenant protections in New York State history,” Governor Cuomo added.