The city would get more power to go after bad landlords under new legislation Public Advocate Letitia James announced Tuesday.
Under one bill, the Department of Buildings would have to deny building permits to owners with too many open hazardous violations in their apartments.
The ban would kick in when a building averages at least two to three serious problems per unit — things like rats and roaches, holes in walls, broken locks, and lack of heat and hot water.
Another bill would expand the city’s public nuisance law to let officials sue negligent landlords.
“These conditions are dangerous to any person’s health or safety, and this new law would give us the ability to step in and act in such a situation rather than waiting for the landlord who has shown they don’t care,” said James, who will introduce the legislation at Wednesday’s City Council meeting.
The current nuisance law is used to go after drug dealing, prostitution, gambling and other public nuisances. It would expand to include housing nuisances including unsanitary conditions, improper ventilation, and overcrowding.
The public advocate releases an annual list of the city’s worst landlords — with a hundred owners making the latest list that came out in November. Many of them could face punishment under the new legislation.
“It’s been a mystery to all of us that the landlords who are the most incapable of correcting basic conditions in a client’s apartment turn out to be perfectly capable of engaging in the most expansive and intrusive construction projects in the building when it’s to their advantage to drive out tenants with dust, debris and noise,” said Ed Josephson, director of litigation at Legal Services NYC.
“If you are capable of doing construction renovations, then you can certainly first address the deficiencies in the apartments.”