Public Advocate de Blasio
Launches 8-point Housing Initiative to Repair Run-down Apartments & Protect Tenants
New laws and initiatives will use City contracts and subsidies, tenant organizing, private law firms, Craigslist.org, online Watch List to hold landlords accountable
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Wiley Norvell 212-669-4813/646-422-9614
NEW YORK – Standing with tenants at a dilapidated Bronx apartment building today, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio launched an 8-point housing plan to hold the city’s worst landlords accountable for repairing their buildings. The set of initiatives will bar chronically bad landlords from receiving taxpayer dollars and mobilize tenants in deteriorating buildings. The plan also includes an innovative partnership with private law firms to provide pro bono help in housing court, and will alert apartment-hunters on Craigslist.org about landlords with a history of neglecting repairs.
Housing and landlord complaints are the number-one reason New Yorkers call 311. More than 172,000 complaints about lack of heat alone flooded the system this winter.
“We need to change New York’s approach to holding chronically bad landlords accountable,” said Public Advocate Bill de Blasio. “We need to creatively use the tools we have right at our fingertips so that more New Yorkers can finally live in safe apartments.”
The 8-point plan includes:
- City legislation to bar landlords with a long history of severe housing violations from receiving taxpayer dollars through rent programs like Section 8 and Advantage
- A partnership with the Department of Citywide Administrative Services to prevent new City office space leases from being issued to landlords on NYC’s Worst Landlords Watch List
- Listing NYC’s Worst Landlords Watch List on Craigslist.org as a resource for apartment-hunters
- Working with the New York City Housing Authority to reduce paperwork requirements and streamline the process for responsible landlords who have made repairs
- An innovative pilot project with South Brooklyn Legal Services to recruit private sector law firms to help law-abiding tenants navigate housing court, pro bono
- The extension and expansion of rent regulations, which expire in June 2011
- Sending field organizers into troubled buildings to help form new tenant associations
- State legislation sponsored by Senator Liz Krueger to establish mandatory minimum fines for the most severe category of housing violations, like failing to provide heat
Senator Liz Krueger said, “When hundreds of thousands of New York City renters are forced to live without heat or hot water, it is clear that our housing code enforcement system has failed. Negligent building owners do not make repairs because they know that New York City’s enforcement agencies do not have the tools nor the resources to make them to comply with housing codes. I commend Public Advocate Bill de Blasio for developing an innovative plan to improve housing quality by creating both meaningful consequences for landlords who refuse to comply with the law, as well as assistance to well-intentioned landlords who want to improve their properties.”
“If rent regulations are not immediately strengthened, we will jeopardize millions of New York families,” said Senator Adriano Espaillat, top ranking Democrat on the Senate Housing Committee and lead sponsor of rent reform legislation. “That’s why it is critical that we advance Public Advocate Bill De Blasio’s tenant protection initiatives and why we must extend and strengthen rent laws slated to expire this June.”
“New Yorkers have a right to know that their unit and building are a safe place to live and raise a family. They have a right to expect that their landlord be responsive and follow the law or face tough penalties and consequences. They also have a right to the sense of security that comes from knowing you will not be kicked out of your home because of skyrocketing rent. That sense of safety and security makes it possible for New Yorkers and Bronxites to focus on working hard to better the lives of their families and tackle the challenges facing our communities,” said Senator Gustavo Rivera. “I am proud to stand with Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, someone who not only believes in these inherent rights, but is taking action to ensure they are protected.”
“In theory, tenants do not need an attorney to enforce housing code standards in Housing Court. In practice, tenants do not have attorneys and landlords do, so an unscrupulous landlord can raise numerous procedural barriers that stop tenants from getting repairs completed,” said Brent Meltzer, Co-Director of South Brooklyn Legal Services’ Housing Unit. “At South Brooklyn Legal Services, we do not have the resources to help the crush of tenants in need of legal support. That is why we are excited to partner with Public Advocate de Blasio to help level the playing field in Housing Court between tenants and their landlords.”
Last August, Public Advocate de Blasio launched NYC’s Worst Landlords Watch List to shine a spotlight on repeat offenders whose buildings have fallen into dangerous disrepair. The online Watch List currently lists 418 buildings owned by 323 distinct landlords. As part of the initiatives announced today, Public Advocate de Blasio’s NYC’s Worst Landlords Watch List will be expanded so that tenants can easily network with others who live in different buildings but share the same landlord.
The enhanced NYC’s Worst Landlords Watch List is available at:
The full 8-point housing plan is available at: