City Targets Over 1,000 Buildings for New Tenant Protection Program
The de Blasio Administration recently announced the implementation of the Certification of No Harassment (CONH) Pilot Program, established by a new law that requires buildings that meet certain criteria to certify that no tenant harassment has taken place before being granted construction permits to significantly alter their properties. The city also published the list of more than 1,000 buildings with approximately 26,000 units that will now be subject to the CONH program.
Owners of buildings included on the program list will be required to apply for a Certification of No Harassment before they’re approved for construction permits by the Department of Buildings (DOB). The Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) will conduct the investigation to certify that no tenant harassment has taken place. Owners denied a CONH won’t be able to significantly alter their buildings for five years, unless they provide permanently affordable housing to be built without city subsidy, tax benefits, or inclusionary housing. The list of flagged CONH properties will be updated by HPD and included on HPD’s and DOB’s websites.
Two versions of the CONH program have been in place in Hell’s Kitchen since 1974 and for single-room occupancy buildings (SROs) citywide, but the program was significantly expanded in the City Council’s 2017 CONH legislation. The broadened 36-month pilot includes:
- Buildings that meet a threshold of distress within 11 community board districts throughout the city. The community boards have either undergone city-sponsored neighborhood-wide rezonings or have a high concentration of distressed buildings;
- Any building citywide where a full vacate order has been issued, or where a building is enrolled in HPD’s Alternative Enforcement Program (AEP) and remained active in the program for more than four months; and
- Any building citywide where there has been a final determination of harassment in court, or by NYS Homes and Community Renewal (HCR) within the preceding five years will be added to the list and will automatically be denied a CONH upon application.
Once a building owner subject to the program applies for a Certification of No Harassment, HPD will notify tenants, community groups, the community board, and local elected officials. HPD will then conduct an investigation into whether tenant harassment has taken place at the property within the last five years. If HPD determines that there’s evidence of harassment, a hearing will be held at the Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings and the building owner can be potentially barred from seeking DOB permits. If no evidence of tenant harassment is found, HPD will grant the building a Certification of No Harassment.