DNAinfo: New Bill Aims to Protect Small Businesses From Landlord Harassment

By Gustavo Solis

September 29, 2015

City legislators are trying to protect small business owners from negligent landlords by crafting a bill that gives them similar protections as residential tenants.

The new law would amend the city code by adding protection against landlord harassment of non-residential tenants, according to the bill.

“As bad as things are for residents of NYC seeking to keep their apartments, at least there is a fairly robust system of protection,” said City Councilman Mark Levine, during a hearing on the bill Friday. “On the commercial side, it’s really the Wild West.”

Landlords can harass commercial tenants by denying services, like water and electricity, cutting off heat in the winter, doing unnecessary repair work during business hours, and demanding under-the-table payments to enter into lease negotiations, Levine added...

Levine hopes this legislation is the beginning of stronger protections against small businesses, many of which have been forced out of Hamilton Heights in the last couple of years, he said.

“Frankly, until now there haven’t been strong enough sanctions against this kind of behavior,” he said.

“This bill seeks to provide some penalties with teeth so that tenants who are subjected to this type of harassment can resort to the court and win damages to compensate for lost business and to compensate for lost legal fees.”

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