Tenant Protection Act Upheld in Court
The Tenant Protection Act, which gave tenants the right to sue owners in Housing Court for using threats or other disruptive tactics to force them out, was upheld in a recent State Supreme Court ruling. The law made harassment a housing code violation and allowed a judge to impose civil penalties of $1,000 to $5,000 against violators. The judge dismissed the lawsuit brought against the city by owners. The suit claimed that the law violated the state and federal Constitutions and unlawfully expanded the jurisdiction of the city's Housing Maintenance Code and of Housing Court judges.
In her ruling, the judge described the law as a “rational legislative response to what the City Council has determined is the potential for a growing problem of tenant harassment in New York City.”
In a separate statement, the Council speaker, Christine C. Quinn, called the decision “a great victory” for tenants. “Contrary to the assertions of the landlord lobby, this law is neither vague nor unnecessary,” she said. Nearly 540 harassment cases have been filed under the law, according to Ms. Quinn's office. Of those, 21 have resulted in civil penalties.