Tenant Harassment Prevention Task Force: A Collaboration for Affordable Housing

On Friday February 19, 2015 Mayor Bill de Blasio alongside attorney general Eric T. Schneiderman announced the tenant prevention task force. The city and state agencies are coming together to protect rent stabilized tenants from harassing landlords. The mission of the task force is clear, as the attorney general stated “…it is designed to investigate, sue and, when appropriate, prosecute abusive landlords to stop the harassment of tenants.”

Mayor Bill de Blasio and Attorney General Schneiderman on Friday February 15, 2015.
Mayor Bill de Blasio and Attorney General Schneiderman on Friday February 19, 2015.

This task force came to light due to the dramatic increase of harassment complaints from tenants. Tenant complaints have been increasing over the past year due to the harassing tactics landlords are using. An issue the tenants of Crown Heights are well aware of. The Crown Heights Tenant Union, the growing coalition of tenants, has been underway for over a year now, working together to make sure that all residents know these tactics. Landlords all over Crown Heights have taken tenants to courts for frivolous reasons, used construction to affect living conditions, and ignored tenant’s complaints of building and apartment repairs.

The announcement of the task force shows that the city is listening to the tenants of New York and as well to the work that the Crown Heights Tenants Union is doing. Also present this past Friday at the conference, was Donna Mossman from 1159 President St, owned by BCB Realty, she highlighted main tactics that landlords used to harass tenants, such as removal of boilers, blockage of entrances, lack of garbage pick-up and sending management to personally harass tenants.

 “I have watched predatory landlords push working-class people out of their homes,” said Donna.

Donna Mossman speaking on predatory landlords and their harassment tactics on February 15, 2015.
Donna Mossman speaking on predatory landlords and their harassment tactics on February 19, 2015.

Landlords are stopping at nothing to push out long-term residents from their home of over 20 or even 30 years. The increase in real estate market, the loopholes in the rent laws and the gentrification of neighborhoods has allowed for many working families to be displaced, families who cannot afford the astronomical rent hikes of New York.

De Blasio stated, “The landlords “believe ‘if we made life unacceptable they would leave,” but tenants from all boroughs are fighting back, fighting to stay in their homes. Donna and her neighbors from Crown Heights now have another resource supporting them in this fight. The tenant harassment prevention task force; where city and state agencies meet, will keep landlords accountable, and assist tenants in the long fight of making sure there is affordable housing in New York.