Landlord Or Tenant Harassment In New York

by ECL Writer
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New York City, one of the most populous and diverse cities in the world, has a reputation for being a tough place to live. This is especially true when it comes to housing, where high demand and limited supply have led to some of the highest rents in the country. Unfortunately, this situation has also led to a significant amount of landlord or tenant harassment, where one party uses intimidation, threats, or other tactics to force the other to vacate their home or agree to unreasonable terms.

In recent years, the New York City government has taken steps to address this issue, passing laws and regulations aimed at protecting tenants and holding landlords accountable for their actions. However, the problem persists, and many renters continue to face harassment and intimidation on a daily basis.

In this article, Eastcoastlaws.com will explore the issue of landlord or tenant harassment in New York City, including its causes, its impact on tenants, and the measures that have been taken to combat it. We will also discuss some of the challenges that remain in addressing this problem, and offer suggestions for how tenants and landlords can work together to create a safer and more stable housing environment for all New Yorkers.

What is classed as harassment from a landlord In New York?

Any violent tactics used to compel, intimidate, or pressure a tenant into doing something, such as breaking a contract or leaving the property’s premises, are considered landlord harassment.

These activities are typically widespread. Single occurrences do not constitute harassment. Your landlord occasionally might not even be aware of their troubling activity. The landlord is in charge of making sure that things don’t go out of hand to the point that a renter feels harassed.

Examples of Landlord Harassment

  • Not offering leases or lease renewals, or repeatedly trying to pay you to move out of your home or to give up your rights (a buyout) if you are a rent-regulated tenant.
  • Offering you a buyout:
    • While threatening you, intimidating you or using obscene language.
    • By contacting you at your place of employment without obtaining your written permission.
    • While providing false information in connection with the buyout offer.
  • Contacting you about a buyout unless they provide you with the following information in writing:
    • The purpose of the contact and that the contact is on behalf of the owner.
    • That you can reject the offer and continue to live in your home.
    • That you have a right to seek advice from a lawyer and may seek information on the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) website about legal services.
    • That, if you advise the owner in writing that you do not want to be contacted about any buyout offer, the owner cannot contact you about it for 180 days unless you advise the owner in writing at some earlier time that you are interested in discussing a buyout, or unless the Court permits the owner to discuss a buyout offer with you.
    • The median asking rent for a dwelling unit in the same community district, within the previous twelve-month period.
  • Unjustified eviction notices or illegal lockouts.
  • Threats and intimidation, such as late-night phone calls including phone calls to encourage or ask you to move out of your home or give up your rights.
  • Overcharging for a rent-regulated apartment.
  • Failure to provide necessary repairs or utilities.
  • Deliberately causing construction-related problems for tenants, such as working after hours, blocking entrances, conducting work without a permit, or failing to remove excessive dust or debris.
  • Repeated interruptions of essential services, such as heat, water, or electricity. 
  • Providing you with misleading information regarding the unit occupancy status or violations; making a false statement or misrepresentation as to a material fact regarding the current occupancy or the rent stabilization status of a building or dwelling unit on any application or construction documents for a permit for work.
  • Repeatedly contacting or visiting any person lawfully entitled to occupancy or such unit during non-business hours when the tenant has not indicated a willingness to have such contact or visit.
  • Commencing a baseless or frivolous court proceeding against a person lawfully entitled to occupancy of such dwelling unit if there is a pattern of such proceedings in a building.

Permissible Landlord Actions

The mere fact that a landlord’s behavior is undesirable does not qualify it as harassment. The following is a succinct outline of what a landlord may do in their interactions with tenants:

  • Entering the premise when there’s an emergency;
  • Evicting a tenant who’s frequently delinquent paying rent despite sending payment reminders;
  • Enacting a rent increase with at least 30 days notice;
  • Issuing a notice to quit due to ongoing lease violations; and
  • Offering to pay the tenant to move out of the property as long as they follow legal measures.

What to Do if Your Landlord is Harassing You In New York

If you are a tenant in New York City and you are being harassed by your landlord, there are steps you can take to protect yourself. Here are some actions you can take:

  • Document the harassment: Keep a record of all interactions with your landlord, including dates, times, and details of what was said or done. This information will be helpful if you need to take legal action.
  • Reach out to a housing advocate: Contact a housing advocate in your area who can help you understand your rights and provide guidance on next steps. The New York City Tenant Support Unit can be a great resource.
  • File a complaint with the NYC Commission on Human Rights: The NYC Commission on Human Rights is responsible for enforcing the city’s anti-harassment laws. You can file a complaint with them if you believe your landlord is violating these laws.
  • File a complaint with the NY State Attorney General’s Office: If you believe your landlord is violating your rights as a tenant, you can file a complaint with the NY State Attorney General’s Office.
  • Contact the police: If you feel threatened or in danger, call the police immediately. They can take action to protect you and ensure your safety.
  • Consider legal action: If your landlord continues to harass you despite your attempts to resolve the situation, you may need to take legal action. Consider contacting an attorney who specializes in landlord-tenant law.

Remember that you have the right to live in your home without being harassed by your landlord. Don’t be afraid to seek help and take action to protect yourself.

NY State Laws about Landlord Harassment

In New York, landlords who are found guilty of harassment risk fines ranging from $3,000 to $11,000. In addition, a landlord is prohibited from retaliating against a complainant by raising rent for that renter. When tenants file cases, they are shielded from rent hikes until the Division of Housing and Community Renewal removes it.

How do I file a complaint against a landlord in NY?

If you are a tenant in New York and you have a complaint against your landlord, you can file a complaint with several government agencies. Here are the steps you can take:

  • Contact your landlord: Before you take any other action, try to resolve the issue with your landlord directly. Write down the issue you are having, and send a letter or email to your landlord. Keep a copy of your communication.
  • Contact your local housing agency: If your landlord does not respond or if the issue is not resolved, you can file a complaint with your local housing agency. You can find your local housing agency by visiting the New York State Homes and Community Renewal website.
  • File a complaint with the New York State Attorney General’s Office: You can also file a complaint with the New York State Attorney General’s Office. You can file a complaint online or by mail. Visit the New York State Attorney General’s website for more information.
  • File a complaint with the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD): If you live in New York City, you can file a complaint with the HPD. You can file a complaint online, by phone, or by mail. Visit the HPD website for more information.
  • File a complaint with the New York City Housing Court: If you have a legal dispute with your landlord, you can file a complaint with the New York City Housing Court. You can find more information on the New York City Housing Court website.

Sources:

  1. “Tenants’ Rights Guide” by the New York State Attorney General’s Office, available at https://ag.ny.gov/sites/default/files/tenants_rights.pdf
  2. “Housing Complaints and Violations” by the New York State Homes and Community Renewal, available at https://hcr.ny.gov/housing-complaints-and-violations
  3. “Housing Complaints” by the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development, available at https://www1.nyc.gov/site/hpd/renters/housing-complaints.page
  4. “New York City Housing Court” by the New York City Courts, available at https://www.nycourts.gov/courts/nyc/housing/startingcase.shtml

How HPD Can Help

Harassment may result from a property owner’s failure to remedy hazardous conditions and/or regular interruptions of or non-supply of water, heat, gas, or electric service. The Mayor’s Office to Protect Tenants (MOPT) refers to allegations of harassment involving a property owner’s failure to remedy hazardous conditions and/or frequent interruptions of or failure to supply water, heat, gas, or electric service—actions that may qualify as harassment—to HPD’s Anti-Harassment Unit (AHU) for investigation. You can get in touch with the Mayor’s Office to Protect Tenants (MOPT) by dialing 311 if you think the owner of your apartment complex is preventing you from using critical services or failing to make repairs in order to keep you from staying there.

Seek Legal Assistance

Tenants can initiate an action in Housing Court based on a claim of harassment. 

Free legal assistance is available to low-income tenants who are being harassed by property owners. You can call the following legal service providers for more information:

  • Legal Aid Society: 212-577-3300
  • Legal Services NYC: 917-661-4500
  • Urban Justice Center: 646-459-3017
  • New York City Tenant Protection Hotline at 917-661-4505, Monday – Friday, 10:00am – 4:00pm:

What You Need To Know

A landlord is not allowed by law to compel, harass, or intimidate a tenant into leaving a rental property. It is crucial that landlords retain copies of all correspondence, notices, and rental agreements. Also, it’s crucial to keep track of all interactions with tenants. Also, tenants should make an effort to record incidents and note any irregularities with the landlord. Tenants must be able to identify the kinds of behaviors and activities that could be considered harassment. It is important to pay attention to these deeds and behaviors.

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