As State and City elected officials celebrated the 80th birthday of one of the most notorious tenant advocates, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed yet another anti-harassment protection into law.
Coming off the most anti-owner rent regulations ever passed in New York State history, State and City lawmakers gathered in early December to celebrate the birthday and honor longtime tenant advocate Michael McKee. Not only is this a clear indication of how one-sided elected officials have become with regard to housing issues, but Governor Cuomo coincidentally signed a new law on the same day that now provides criminal penalties for building owners who create disruptive or uninhabitable conditions intended to force tenants out of their apartments.
The new law makes it a class A misdemeanor if a building owner attempts to push out a rent-regulated tenant by purposely creating unsafe conditions that jeopardize a tenant’s safety, health and comfort. It also broadens the definition of the existing class E felony offense to include actions by building owners who harass multiple tenants or conduct repeated offenses.
Previously under the law, protections were limited to tenants who could demonstrate physical injury and did not take into account conditions caused by landlords in a given building. Under the new law, multiple convictions for misdemeanor conduct under these new provisions within a five-year period will allow prosecutors to charge the building owner with a class E felony.
The law new went into effect immediately and adds to the nearly two-dozen State and City harassment related laws that are currently on record.