Housing Court: tough new law against bad landlords

This law story really gets to me personally and gives a boost to all of us who have had to file a complaint in Housing Court against bad landlords.

My bad “landlord” is my co-op’s Board of Directors. If you’ve checked out my series on how to file in Housing Court, you understand what the process is, and the reasons for beginning a case, whether you’re a tenant or, like me, a minority shareholder in a co-op building that has not been properly maintained.

Here’s the Daily News article about the law that “won unanimous City Council approval,” a law that will give added clout to all of us residents, all the tenant lawyers who represent us, the Housing Court judges and Housing Preservation and Development lawyers (who represent the buildings themselves):

Pols: We’ll fix slacker slumlords

Landlords who let disgusting conditions fester in building for years will soon face massive fines if they fail to make real repairs — or criminal charges if they lie about the fixes.

A tough new law that won unanimous City Council approval on Wednesday [January 16, 2013] would force slumlords to sign an affidavit swearing they’ve repaired filthy or dangerous conditions or pay fines of $1,000 per unit or $5,000 per building. If they lie in the affidavit, they could face perjury charges. Current law requires landlords to fix poor conditions in their buildings, but critics say they get away too often with painting over problems instead of addressing the faulty roof or busted water pipe that caused the issue.

“A good landlord sees a hole in somebody’s ceiling and figures out what the problem is,” said City Council Speaker Christine Quinn. “But a bad landlord, a slumlord … they’re not going to do anything because what they really want is that tenant to get out.”

Under the bill, which Mayor Bloomberg is expected to sign into law, city inspectors will be charged with identifying buildings with recurring violations and determining the underlying cause of the damage.

Landlords who don’t make the real fix within four to six months will be subject to fines until the landlord certifies the fix in an affidavit. — Erin Durkin

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