A new law protecting tenants from the ill-will of their landlords has been signed by New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio.
According to the city mayor, there is no need for lessors to employ “ruthless tactics” when dealing with their lessees, because such measures are detrimental on the long run for the entire real estate sector.
“It looks like short term gain, but you know what? You wake up in a year and you don’t have affordable housing anymore”, warned De Blasio.
The new regulation bills specify that it is illegal for building owners to make repeated buyout offers for a period of 180 days, if the occupant rejects the initial offer.
Similarly, lessors are forbidden to employ false information in order to convince lessees to accept the buyout, or to use unscrupulous intimidation tactics such as verbal threats or phone calls at inappropriate hours.
Forced buy-outs are sometimes used by landlords because once the tenant moves out of a relatively affordable apartment to another place, rent can be raised higher than before, which makes such practices highly profitable for callous profit-seeking owners.
Another important provision included in the bill is the fact that landlords should give tenants the option to remain in the apartment or to consult a lawyer, if they wish to do so. This measure has been taken in response to numerous claims from lessees, who had been forced out of their rented places, after being coerced to accept a buyout offer.
Tenant harassment complaints reported to the Housing Court have doubled since 2011, according to officials. Some lessors have even revealed that they had been threatened with lawsuits or jail time, and that their families had been harassed by relocation specialists.
The newly promulgated laws aim to offer support to those who have had to suffer such shady practices from their property owners and who may risk remaining homeless if they give in to these pressures.
The 3 bills, which will take effect in 3 months, specify that the fines for violating the provisions range between $1000 and $10,000, for the first offense. If failure to abide by these laws persists and the landlord commits subsequent offenses, the penalties double.
This legislation applies to all the rental apartments within city limits, but it is especially designed to help its rent-restricted units, where rent raises are limited to a certain amount each year, but aggressive buy-out strategies are commonly employed.
NYC Council member Rafael Espinal, Chair of the Consumer Affairs Committee, has expressed his support for the mayor’s innovative, declaring that indeed malicious tactics from landlords must be put to an end.
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