City and State Officials Create Joint Task Force to Combat Tenant Harassment

New York City and State officials recently announced the creation of a multi-agency task force aimed at finding and penalizing bad landlords. Mayor Bill de Blasio and Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman spoke of the task force as an unprecedented collaboration among city agencies that investigate building and housing code compliance, and state agencies that investigate and criminally charge harassment. The attorney general vowed to use his authority more aggressively to bring criminal charges against landlords when warranted.

Tenant harassment complaints in Housing Court nearly doubled to 813 in fiscal 2014, from 435 in fiscal 2011. Last year, the state attorney general’s office began 10 investigations into tenant harassment, up from three in the previous year. And in the past 18 months, the office has fielded more than 200 harassment complaints.

Under the task force, complaints will be jointly investigated by all agencies involved — mainly the city’s Housing and Preservation Department and the Department of Buildings, and the state’s Tenant Protection Unit, which refers cases to the attorney general’s office.