Bill Would Allow Easier Recovery of Relocation Expenses from Owners

Lower Manhattan councilwoman Margaret Chin is proposing a bill that would require owners the HPD suspects of bad behavior to place 10 percent of a building's rent rolls from a five-year period into an escrow account. The city would use the money in the event it needs to swiftly relocate displaced tenants. The department is already allowed to recover the costs of tenant relocation from landlords, but Chin's bill would allow the department to pick up those costs up-front.

Chin argues that vacate orders issued by HPD are being used by some owners who allow or force their buildings to fall to unsafe levels, at which point the city forces tenants to vacate the premises. The HPD recently held a hearing to discuss changes to its relocation services policies. Among the proposals was a measure that would give tenants just 30 days to decide whether to accept relocation assistance from the city. Under this rule, tenants would receive only one option for temporary housing. Currently, they are shown three options.

Chin first proposed her bill in 2011, during former Mayor Michael Bloomberg's administration, but it went nowhere. She's hoping the tenant-friendly administration of Mayor Bill de Blasio will make it easier to push the legislation through this time around. The bill has 12 co-sponsors in addition to Chin. Two more councilmembers have expressed interest in supporting it.