by Gustavo Solis, DNAinfo
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.”
As rents continue to soar and landlords seek to fill apartments with high income tenants, the city must work to protect affordable housing for low-income residents. This work is most vital in historically low-income communities, where a sizable portion of the City’s rent regulated housing stock remains. That is why we must put the critical issue of housing preservation on the City’s policy agenda.
The New York City Council Affordable Housing Preservation Taskforce, which I’m honored to chair with Brooklyn Council Member Jumaane Williams, will direct much needed attention toward renewing and enrolling existing buildings in housing preservation programs. With the goal of preserving the city’s existing stock of rent regulated housing units, the Taskforce will focus on preventing displacement, preserving our neighborhoods and promoting the fabulous diversity which makes New York the greatest city in the world.
To stay connected with the New York City Council Affordable Housing Preservation Taskforce, please click here to sign up.