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Landlords making potentially predatory business moves could end up on city’s ‘watch list’

HPD Commissioner Maria Torres-Springer, center, said the new speculation watch list would help keep an eye on vulnerable tenants.
HPD Commissioner Maria Torres-Springer, center, said the new speculation watch list would help keep an eye on vulnerable tenants. Photo Credit: Getty Images / Theo Wargo

The city is hoping a new watch list will trap predatory property owners.

With support from city housing officials, the City Council said it plans to pass legislation Thursday that will task the government with creating a “speculation watch list,” identifying rent-regulated buildings where predatory investments may threaten to displace tenants.

Under the measure, the city Department of Housing Preservation and Development would compile the first list within 10 months, by examining sales of rent-regulated buildings with higher prices than for other similar transactions. Those deals may be an indicator that owners are banking on drastically raising rents and, in some cases, harassing out tenants, according to a news release from the department.

The department will update the list every three months, which its commissioner, Maria Torres-Springer, said will help the government and housing advocates keep an eye on vulnerable tenants.

“The new speculation watch list harnesses the power of data to identify sales that signal the potential for harassment and distress, adding yet another tool to our multifaceted approach to combat tenant harassment and safeguard affordability for our city’s residents,” Torres-Springer said in a statement.

City Councilmen Ritchie Torres and Daniel Garodnick worked with the department and various advocacy groups on the measure.

“If landlords have a business plan that virtually guarantees harassment of tenants, we will make sure every New Yorker is prepared,” Garodnick said in a statement. (Sarina Trangle)

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