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Rent-regulated home sales monitored to 'stop tenant harassment'

Buildings that have sold at a much higher-than-expected-price will be added to a "watch list."

A property at 969 64th Ave. in Brooklyn

A property at 969 64th Ave. in Brooklyn is among a city-issued "watch list" intended to protect tenants from predatory landlords. Photo Credit: Google Maps

The city's Department of Housing Preservation and Development released a “Speculation Watch List" on Tuesday of rent-regulated homes sold that the agency said could potentially put tenants at risk.

The list, the first of its kind for the agency, will be released quarterly. A spokesman for HPD said the agency reviews about 300 sales each year and expects to see about 150 properties on the list annually. 

"Through Housing New York we are working on multiple fronts to protect tenants from harassment and safeguard affordability for our city’s residents. The Speculation Watch List harnesses the power of data to gather information about where tenants are most at risk from the threat of predatory investment,” HPD Commissioner Maria Torres-Springer said in a statement.

Torres-Springer described the watch list as an "innovative new tool to help us stop tenant harassment in its tracks."

The quarterly list will focus on buildings that are sold at a much higher than expected price, whose revenue can't support its purchase price. This, according to HPD, indicates that a new landlord may raise rents, reduce services or force out rent-regulated tenants. 

According to the agency, the list is geared so tenants and tenant advocates have an indication of where tenant harassment may occur. 

The list was part of a bill that passed the city council last year, sponsored by Councilman Ritchie Torres, who represents several neighborhoods in the Bronx. 

"One of my concerns is that the city historically has been too reactive. Rather than react to harassment and displacement, why not look to prevent it?" he said. "The first goal is for the list to serve as a deterrent against speculation... and then second to alert tenants to the risk that they face."

The initial watch list includes 51 properties sold from April to June. Twenty-three buildings are located in Brooklyn, 18 are in Manhattan, and 10 are Queens properties.

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