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Know Your Rights
Source: Gotham Gazette
Subject: Housing & Environmental Justice
Type: Media Coverage

Landlord Lawsuit Harasses Council

Surprise — landlords don’t like the City Council’s **tenant harassment bill that was approved five months ago and signed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Beyond dislike, they are now trying to throw it out entirely.

Prometheus Realty Corp. and the Rent Stabilization Association of New York City have filed a complaint with the state Supreme Court, arguing that the city unlawfully went out of its jurisdiction when it approved the legislation earlier this year. (Here is a copy of the complaint via the Daily Politics)

The bill allows tenants to pursue legal action against their landlords for harassment, which includes continual interruption in essential services (like hot water) to the damaging of locks. If found guilty, landlords could face fines as high as $5,000.

Some protections were established in the law to ensure landlords were not constantly bombarded with frivolous lawsuits.

The bill has not been without controversy before this. Councilmember Leroy Comrie had proposed legislation simultaneously that provided landlords protection from harassment, instead of tenants. He eventually abandoned that bill.

In response to the lawsuit, Speaker Christine Quinn released the following statement:

"This attempt to overturn the Tenant Protection Act speaks to the absolute necessity of having this law on the books. Obviously, some landlords feel they need to protect a pattern of behavior designed for only one purpose – to get people out of their homes. This bill was the product of 14 months of thoughtful collaboration with tenants, advocates and landlords, and we are confident it will stand up to any lega challenge. Instead of forcing us to waste taxpayer money in court, landlords should use their resources to ensure full compliance with the law."

According to the complaint, the association and the realty group are not attempting to "shield" landlords who harass tenants from fines or litigation. The issues, the complaint states, are about jurisdiction.

While regulating tenant harassment could be within the city’s police power, the complaint argues, it is not within its power to regulate housing issues.

The law took effect immediately, so, potentially, tenants could have already brought their landlords to court for harassment.

Quinn and her crew are planning a **rally tomorrow on the City Hall steps in response to the lawsuit.**Legislation recently passed through years of advocacy by Make the Road New York and its coalition partners.  25 Make the Road members participated in the rally.