Local and state government enforcers say they are teaming up to battle New York City landlords who bully rent-regulated tenants into fleeing their homes.
Untangled red tape, coordinated inspections, and faster punishment of lawbreaking landlords are among the promises officials made Thursday on behalf of their "Tenant Harassment Prevention Task Force."
"I cannot emphasize enough that the assumption that government agencies are always coordinating effectively together is often false," State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman said at an event in downtown Brooklyn.
The law allows rent at regulated housing to rise, and units to shift to market rate, under certain circumstances, such as renovation and vacancies. Some landlords have made life unpleasant for rent-regulated tenants -- cutting heat, allowing festering rodent infestation, failing to make necessary repairs -- in the hopes that they'll leave, the officials said.
"Bluntly, we are, in a good way, tightening the noose," Mayor Bill de Blasio said. "We are making it tougher and tougher on the bad actors. And this effort will ultimately reach thousands and thousands" of tenants.
Instead separate and disjointed inquiries of complaints, agencies like the state and city housing agencies, and departments of building, finance, sheriff, and law will work together.
De Blasio called the coordination a "game-changer."
The city's Housing Preservation and Development agency Commissioner Vicki L. Been said tenants having trouble with their landlords can call 311. The city will then alert the necessary agencies.