“Behind New York’s Housing Crisis: Weakened Laws and Fragmented Regulation,” Kim Barker’s impressive and comprehensive NY Times article of May 20, 2018, makes the case to New Yorkers about why their city is being taken over by the wealthy and how the city’s most abundant source of affordable homes, over one million rent regulated apartments, are draining out of the system.
Stand for Tenant Safety (STS), a citywide coalition of thirty plus housing advocacy groups, has been on the ground organizing tenants to actively resist the corporate landlords who buy tenanted buildings for quick profits, and then push out regulated tenants through construction-as-harassment - one of the most threatening forms of harassment that tenants might face. It often involves ceiling collapses, the release of toxic lead dust, impaired cooking gas pipes, and more than occasionally, causes buildings to be vacated for months on end.
To protect tenants and to give the Department of Buildings (DoB) more clout, STS worked with members of the City Council’s Progressive Caucus to pass 12 local laws that address many of Ms. Barker’s examples of weakened laws. One new law creates a “Real Time Enforcement Unit,” requiring a DoB inspector to get to the site of a dangerous construction violation within twelve hours. DoB will be hiring 70 additional inspectors to staff this unit. Other laws mandate that occupied buildings under construction must prominently display the Tenants Construction Bill of Rights on every floor, unpaid violations get fines that are collected in a way do sting the bottom line, and to address fragmented regulation, a task force of public agencies and elected officials is mandated to meet quarterly to evaluate current practices and improve information sharing.
STS is thrilled to see the in depth coverage presented in “Behind New York’s Housing Crisis: Weakened Laws and Fragmented Regulation.” Our coalition, tenants, and elected officials are ready to work with DoB to use the new STS laws to vigorously protect New Yorkers.
Tenants celebrate City Council vote to stop 'construction harrassment'
NEW YORK, NY — More than 100 tenants, along with community organizations, legal advocates and elected officials, rallied at City Hall on Wednesday, September 27, 2017, applauding City Council vote and passage of legislation to stop “construction as harassment.” As the 12th and final bill in the Stand for Tenant Safety legislative package, its passage will create a Real Time Enforcement unit (RTE) so that the Department of Buildings can respond to complaints more quickly and will ensure that there is a unit to help measure and track complaints and violators. Aggressive landlords frequently use dangerous construction work in residential buildings to harass rent-regulated tenants. The rally, organized by Stand for Tenant Safety Coalition, celebrated the Council’s vote to pass final bill of a package of legislation to help end the harassment and strengthen tenant rights.
Many unscrupulous landlords use dangerous or negligent construction to harass tenants out of rent-regulated apartments. When landlords successfully evict, displace, or “harass out” rent stabilized tenants, their apartments can be leased to the next tenant at a much higher rent, adding to the loss of affordable housing in New York City.
Stand for Tenant Safety (STS) is a citywide coalition of community organizations fighting to protect the lives and homes of New York City tenants where landlords are using construction as harassment. Funding for tenant protection work is provided through the Office of Civil Justice, NYC Human Resource Administration.
For Immediate Release: Wednesday, April 19, 2017
Contact: Zara Nasir, (646) 584-2274, firstname.lastname@example.org
Stand for Tenant Safety Testifies for Passage of Legislative Package,
Endorsed by Progressive Caucus, to End Construction as Harassment
New York, NY – Tenants and advocates with the Stand for Tenant Safety (STS) Coalition will testify at a hearing today for five of the twelve bills in the STS legislative package which aims to reform the NYC Department of Buildings (DOB). The STS Coalition is a citywide alliance of grassroots tenant organizations and legal service groups collaborating with the Progressive Caucus and the eleven City Council prime sponsors to push for greater protection for tenants, especially in regards to the use of construction as harassment by landlords.
The five bills that will be heard at the Committee on Housing and Buildings hearing encompass:
- Construction Task Force (Intro 0926): This bill would create a task force on construction work in occupied multiple dwellings.
- Building Code Violations (Intro 0931): This bill would provide that building code violations adjudicated before Environmental Control Board would constitute tax liens on the property.
- Tenant Protection Plans (Intro 0936): This bill amends information required in tenant protection plans (TPP) and prescribes measures to ensure compliance with the TPP.
- Permit Oversight (Intro 0938): This bill requires increased oversight of construction contractors who have engaged in work without a required permit.
- Construction Bill of Rights (Intro 0960): This bill creates a safe construction bill of rights.
These bills together give tenants better protection from dangerous construction and help DOB to enforce already existing laws. Without these bills, unscrupulous landlords can use loopholes in the city’s enforcement to create hazardous construction conditions to push tenants out of their homes.Read more
In celebration of Valentine’s Day, let’s show our Council Members some love…by sending them some amazing e-cards!
Below, you’ll find some amazing Valentine’s-themed STS e-cards which y’all can send to your local Council Members, kindly reminding them to please pass our 12 STS bills regarding construction-as-harassment. If possible, please take some time to e-mail your local Council Member one or a few of these fabulous e-cards. It will only take a minute or two! On a mobile device, click to enlarge each image then choose a Share option, or on your desktop you can right-click and choose Save As.
Not sure who your Council Member or what their contact info is? Click here.
Happy Valentine’s and e-card sending day!!!
Stand for Tenant Safety (STS) Coalition Brings Boro Presidents, Council Members, and Tenants together to Discuss Package of Bills to Combat “Construction as Harassment”
250+ community members attended town halls in Manhattan and Brooklyn last month to raise awareness about landlords’ use of “construction as harassment.”
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 3, 2017
CONTACT: Rolando Guzman, 718-388-9190 x111, email@example.com
New York, NY – New York City council members sponsoring legislation to reform and strengthen the Department of Buildings described their initiatives to address issues raised by tenants who have been victims of brutal harassment from their landlords involving aggressive, dangerous, and frequently illegal construction in their apartment buildings.
On January 10, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer was joined by 20 elected officials and tenants from across the borough at the Manhattan Municpal Building.
SOHO tenants recalled the horrors of landlords doing work with falsified construction permits, with some landlords claiming buildings were vacant or unregulated when there were, in fact, rent-regulated tenants still living in the building at the time of the construction.
Henry Dembrowski of Lower Manhattan said “Construction as Harassment is a poison in our city and we need to work together through legislation [to get rid of it].”
A tenant from the Toledano Tenant Coalition from the East Village named Holly Slayton highlighted the problem of uncollected Department of Building fines, saying “the Department of Buildings has a billion dollars in fines due to them.” Slayton strongly supports bills Int. 0930 and Int. 0931, sponsored by Council Member Kallos, which would make ECB fines lien collectable, meaning the city could foreclose on a building that had racked up too many unpaid violations.
Three weeks later, Brooklyn tenants, backed by the Brooklyn Borough President’s office, several council members, and state assembly members, hosted a related town hall.
Prime Stand for Tenant Safety bill sponsors Council Members Antonio Reynoso and Rafael Espinal spoke to the necessity of their bills and the entire package.
“These [bad acting] landlords just don’t care. The cost of doing business is not even worth a life to them. Landlords are making money as they break the law and this legislation can change that,” said Council Member Reynoso on his three bills to create a watch list of contractors who do construction work without a permit and to increase fines for doing work without a permit or after receiving a stop work order.
Tenants from across the borough – from Greenpoint to South Brooklyn and everywhere in between – described the trauma of having their buildings demolished while they were still living inside. Phil Smrek is one such tenant. He spoke in favor of a strong Real Time Enforcement. Smrek described being passed between 311 and 911 operators over and over when he tried to make a complaint about construction workers entering his building at night with sledgehammers and without permits. Due to bureaucratic back-and-forth and red tape a Department of Buildings inspector did not come to the building until many days later when it was too late to stop the illegal and hazardous construction.
A Real Time Enforcement Unit in the Department of Buildings could have protected Smrek and his neighbors by conducting inspections for complaints about work being done without a permit within two hours of the receipt of the complaint, inspecting buildings doing significant amounts of construction within five days of the start of the construction work. The STS Package of bills includes one which would create a Real Time Enforcement Unit.
During the Brooklyn Town Hall, Council Member Mathieu Eugene promised to sign all twelve bills. To make sure this desperately needed legislation is passed this session, tenant across the city were urged to speak to their local representatives.