Bill S1744-2013

Establishes additional causes of action under harassment of a rent regulated tenant; creates harassment of a rent regulated tenant in the second degree

Establishes additional causes of action under harassment of a rent regulated tenant; creates harassment of a rent regulated tenant in the second degree; creates quality affordable housing preservation fund; makes certain provisions of the rent regulation reform act of 1997 permanent.

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  • Jan 8, 2014: REFERRED TO CODES
  • Jan 9, 2013: REFERRED TO CODES

Memo

BILL NUMBER:S1744

TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the penal law, in relation to harassment of a rent regulated tenant in the first and second degree; to amend the state finance law, in relation to establishing the "quality affordable housing preservation fund"; and to amend the rent regulation reform act of 1997, in relation to making certain provisions permanent

SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS: This bill amends Section 241.05 of the penal law, as added by chapter 116 of the laws of 1997, with regard to the harassment of rent regulated tenants in the first and second degree; amends the state finance law by establishing a dedicated fund for "quality affordable housing preservation funds"; and amending the rent regulation reform act of 1997, rendering it permanent.

Amends Section 241.05 adding paragraphs 3 and 4 by defining actions that violate the provisions of Section 241.10 that constitute harassment in the first degree, a class E felony, following a landlord or his/her authorized representative having received complaints on three successive occasions of conditions, conduct or circumstances which recklessly cause Physical injury to a third person, tenant or tenants.

The amended Section 241.10 defines harassment in the second degree with the intent to cause a tenant to vacate a rent regulated housing accommodation by knowingly or recklessly creating or maintaining conditions that endanger the health and safety of a tenant or tenants, who after three successive complaints have been ignored with regard to the conditions cited in the complaints. Section 241.10 is amended to include punitive fines of three thousand dollars for each offense. Section 3 amends the state finance law establishing a dedicated Quality affordable housing preservation fund in the custody of DHCR and the State comptroller wherein the fines are to be deposited.

JUSTIFICATION: Poverty dictates housing choices, as such available and affordable housing for low-income families is generally found in communities with the oldest housing, the greatest need for improvements, rehabilitation and code compliance. Therefore, it is in this type of housing where maintenance has been deferred. As a consequence lowand moderate-income children are more likely to live in older deteriorated housing with lead Paint hazards, mold, vermin; multiple code violations which if left unchecked can significantly affect the health and threaten the lives of the tenants. Millions of New Yorkers live in housing with conditions that compromise the health or safety of an individual tenant or a considerable number of persons. In order to motivate rent regulated tenants into vacating their units, intentional negligence, detachment and overt actions by landlords or their representatives have created such conditions. Ordering that garbage not be removed; ignoring requests to address leaks that precipitate mold; not treating units to discourage vermin and rodent infestation; and

broken windows or windows without guards, all contribute to long-term illness, high health costs, and potential fatalities. This same holds true for landlords or their representatives who allow individuals involved in illegal activities or in the distribution or sale of controlled substances to congregate in communal areas of a property so as to threaten the health and well-being of tenants and as a tactical means intimidating tenants to vacate rent regulated units.

Mold, vermin and rodent infestations are major contributors to the asthma epidemic that afflicts 500,000 New York City low-income Latino and African-American residents of the City of New York, the majority of whom are children, to suffer disproportionally. According to the NYC Department of Mental Health and Hygiene the trigger effects of these conditions result in thousands of visits to hospital emergency rooms each year due to chronic lung inflammation and airway tightening resulting in coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath. The department cites asthma as the leading cause of hospitalization of children and missed school days and one in four children. Over one hundred seventy-five landlords have become repeat offenders of conditions that are the petri dish for asthma and resulted in New York City having the highest incidents of asthma in the nation.

Hundreds of children are hurt or killed by falls that might have been prevented by window guards. However, many landlords fail to give tenants the forms that determine whether the apartment must have window guards. By law, forms headed NOTICE TO TENANT OR OCCUPANT or WINDOW GUARDS REQUIRED (which inform landlord that the window must have window guards) be filled within 30 days of when the tenant starts renting, and every year after that between January 1 and 16 (or with the January rent bill) lease.

While lead abatement has been required by law since 1982, hundreds of New York City children and elderly living in pre-War housing are subject the dangers posed by peeling and chipped lead paint and the potential brain damage brought about by elevated blood lead levels.

This law will ensure that landlords or their representatives accept accountability and responsibility for removing conditions, the presence of which, if ignored through negligence can result in illness, long term disability or death.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Immediately.

FISCAL IMPLICATIONS:; Generation of revenue to support enforcement and housing preservation activities.


Text

STATE OF NEW YORK ________________________________________________________________________ 1744 2013-2014 Regular Sessions IN SENATE (PREFILED) January 9, 2013 ___________
Introduced by Sen. ESPAILLAT -- read twice and ordered printed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee on Codes AN ACT to amend the penal law, in relation to harassment of a rent regu- lated tenant in the first and second degree; to amend the state finance law, in relation to establishing the "quality affordable hous- ing preservation fund"; and to amend the rent regulation reform act of 1997, in relation to making certain provisions permanent THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM- BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS: Section 1. Section 241.05 of the penal law, as added by chapter 116 of the laws of 1997, is amended to read as follows: S 241.05 Harassment of a rent regulated tenant IN THE FIRST DEGREE. An owner is guilty of harassment of a rent regulated tenant IN THE FIRST DEGREE when with intent to cause a rent regulated tenant to vacate a housing accommodation, such owner OR HIS OR HER REPRESENTATIVE: 1. With intent to cause physical injury to such tenant OR INTIMIDATE SUCH TENANT, causes [such] injury to such tenant or to a third person; [or] 2. Recklessly causes physical injury to such tenant or to a third person[.]; 3. ENGAGES IN CONDUCT THAT VIOLATES THE PROVISIONS OF SECTION 241.10 OF THIS ARTICLE AND THE HEALTH OR SAFETY OF AN INDIVIDUAL OR A CONSIDER- ABLE NUMBER OF PERSONS HAVE BEEN COMPROMISED AS A RESULT OF THE OWNER OR HIS OR HER REPRESENTATIVE'S FAILURE TO REMEDIATE IMPROPER CONDITIONS AFTER RECEIVING THREE OR MORE COMPLAINTS FROM A TENANT OR TENANTS RELA- TIVE TO THOSE CONDITIONS; OR 4. CONDUCTS OR MAINTAINS ANY PREMISES, HOUSING UNITS, PLACE OR COMMON AREAS WHERE PERSONS GATHER FOR PURPOSES OF ENGAGING IN UNLAWFUL CONDUCT. Harassment of a rent regulated tenant IN THE FIRST DEGREE is a class E felony.
S 2. The penal law is amended by adding a new section 241.10 to read as follows: S 241.10 HARASSMENT OF A RENT REGULATED TENANT IN THE SECOND DEGREE. 1. AN OWNER IS GUILTY OF HARASSMENT OF A RENT REGULATED TENANT IN THE SECOND DEGREE WHEN WITH INTENT TO CAUSE A RENT REGULATED TENANT TO VACATE A HOUSING ACCOMMODATION, SUCH OWNER OR HIS OR HER REPRESENTATIVE ENGAGES IN CONDUCT EITHER UNLAWFUL OR UNREASONABLE UNDER THE CIRCUM- STANCES, KNOWINGLY OR RECKLESSLY CREATES OR MAINTAINS A CONDITION(S) WHICH ENDANGER(S) THE SAFETY OR HEALTH OF AN INDIVIDUAL OR A CONSIDER- ABLE NUMBER OF PERSONS AND THE TENANT OR TENANTS HAVE NOTIFIED THE LAND- LORD ON THREE SUCCESSIVE OCCASIONS AND SUCH OWNER OR REPRESENTATIVE IGNORES COMPLAINTS RELATIVE TO THOSE CONDITIONS. 2. ANY PERSON WHO VIOLATES THE PROVISIONS OF THIS SECTION SHALL BE GUILTY OF A MISDEMEANOR, AND UPON CONVICTION THEREOF SHALL PAY A FINE OF THREE THOUSAND DOLLARS FOR EACH OFFENSE. NOTWITHSTANDING ANY OTHER PROVISION OF LAW TO THE CONTRARY, FINES COLLECTED PURSUANT TO THIS SECTION SHALL BE DEPOSITED INTO THE QUALITY AFFORDABLE HOUSING PRESERVA- TION FUND ESTABLISHED PURSUANT TO SECTION NINETY-NINE-U OF THE STATE FINANCE LAW FOR THE INVESTIGATION AND PROSECUTION OF CRIMES UNDER THIS ARTICLE. HARASSMENT OF A RENT REGULATED TENANT IN THE SECOND DEGREE IS A MISDE- MEANOR. S 3. The state finance law is amended by adding a new section 99-u to read as follows: S 99-U. QUALITY AFFORDABLE HOUSING PRESERVATION FUND. 1. THERE IS HEREBY ESTABLISHED IN THE JOINT CUSTODY OF THE STATE COMPTROLLER AND THE COMMISSIONER OF HOUSING AND COMMUNITY RENEWAL A FUND TO BE KNOWN AS THE "QUALITY AFFORDABLE HOUSING PRESERVATION FUND". 2. SUCH FUND SHALL CONSIST OF ALL MONEYS COLLECTED PURSUANT TO THE PROVISIONS OF SECTIONS 241.05 AND 241.10 OF THE PENAL LAW AND ALL OTHER MONEYS APPROPRIATED, CREDITED, OR TRANSFERRED THERETO FROM ANY OTHER FUND OR SOURCE PURSUANT TO LAW. NOTHING CONTAINED IN THIS SECTION SHALL PREVENT THE STATE FROM RECEIVING GRANTS, GIFTS OR BEQUESTS FOR THE PURPOSES OF THE FUND AS DEFINED IN THIS SECTION AND DEPOSITING THEM INTO THE FUND ACCORDING TO LAW. ANY INTEREST RECEIVED BY THE COMPTROLLER ON MONEYS ON DEPOSIT IN SUCH FUND SHALL BE RETAINED IN AND BECOME PART OF SUCH FUND. 3. MONEYS OF THIS ACCOUNT SHALL BE AVAILABLE TO THE DIVISION OF HOUS- ING AND COMMUNITY RENEWAL TO PAY FOR THE COSTS OF INVESTIGATING AND PROSECUTING VIOLATIONS OF ARTICLE TWO HUNDRED FORTY-ONE OF THE PENAL LAW. 4. ALL PAYMENTS FROM THE FUND SHALL BE MADE ON THE AUDIT AND WARRANT OF THE COMPTROLLER. S 4. Subdivision 6 of section 46 of chapter 116 of the laws of 1997, constituting the rent regulation reform act of 1997, as amended by section 6 of part B of chapter 97 of the laws of 2011, is amended to read as follows: 6. sections [twenty-eight,] twenty-eight-a, twenty-eight-b and twen- ty-eight-c of this act shall expire and be deemed repealed after June 15, 2015; S 5. This act shall take effect immediately; provided, however, sections one, two and three of this act shall take effect on the nineti- eth day after it shall have become a law.

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