Prohibits the owner, agent or operator of a multiple dwelling from hiring as a building superintendent, managing agent, or resident manager any person who is registered as a level two or level three sex offender in New York state, and provides that sexual harassment of a tenant by any owner, agent or operator of a multiple dwelling or for any employee or contractor of such owner, agent or operator constitutes a violation of the warranty of habitability.
TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the multiple dwelling law, in relation to prohibiting the owner, agent or operator of a multiple dwelling from hiring as a building superintendent, managing agent, or resident manager any person who is registered as a level two or level three sex offender in New York state, and to amend the real property law, in relation to providing that sexual harassment of a tenant by any owner, agent or operator of a multiple dwelling or any employee or contractor of such owner, agent or operator constitutes a violation of the warranty of habitability
PURPOSE OR GENERAL IDEA OF BILL: To forbid owners of multiple dwellings from hiring dangerous sex offenders as building superintendents or property managers; 'to permit tenants to refuse access to registered sex offenders who may be employed by a building owner; and to provide that sexual harassment of a tenant by any building owner or agent thereof constitutes a violation of the warranty of habitability.
SUMMARY OF SPECIFIC PROVISIONS:
Section 1: Amends the multiple dwelling law by adding a new section 309-b, to require that an owner or operator of a multiple dwelling shall not hire as a building superintendent, managing agent, or resident manager any person who is registered as a level two or level three sex offender in New York state; provides that no tenant shall be required to give .access to his or her apartment to any person who is a registered sex offender.
Section 2: Amends the real property law by adding a new section 235-h, to provide that it shall be unlawful and shall constitute a violation of the warranty of habitability for any owner, agent, or operator of a multiple dwelling or any employee or contractor of such owner, agent, or operator to subject any tenant of the building to sexual harassment. Defines "tenant" and "sexual harassment" as used in this section and explains the process by which tenants may apply to the Supreme Court to seek a restraining or similar order in the case of sexual harassment.
Further stipulates that the powers and remedies set forth in this section shall be in addition to all other powers and remedies in relation to sexual harassment including the award of damages and do not limit or restrict existing local laws, ordinance, or provisions of New York City's administrative code. Any agreement by a tenant in a written lease or other rental agreement waiving or modifying his or her rights as set forth in this section shall be void as contrary to public policy.
JUSTIFICATION: Current laws and regulations require tenants in New York City and other jurisdictions to allow landlords access to their apartments, subject to certain restrictions, and permit landlords to seek eviction of tenants who unreasonably refuse such access (HMC 27-2008; 28 RCNY § 25-101; 9 NYCRR § 2524.3 (e); NYCAC § 26-408 (a) (6); 9 NYCRR § 2204.2 (a) (6)).
Additionally, the multiple dwelling law requires tenants who install their own locks to provide landlords with duplicate keys upon request (Multiple Dwelling Law § 51-c).
In practice, landlords may designate building superintendents, property managers, contractors, or other individuals to enter tenants' apartments for inspections or repairs, and/or to have possession of keys to residents' apartments. Tenants may have little or no information as to the identity and background of the people to whom they are required to allow access, and could be subject to eviction for "unreasonable" refusal to provide access should they object to the entry of an owner's agent. In these circumstances, tenants are vulnerable to the possibility that they may be required to provide access to persons who are sex offenders.
New York and other states have developed sex offender registration systems in order to provide the public and the police with information about the location of individuals who have been convicted of rape, sexual assault, and other sex offenses, as well as the risk that any particular offender might re-offend. However, many tenants do not regularly search the New York State Sex Offender Registry; additionally, some contractors or other agents employed by landlords may not appear in the database as being in proximity to the buildings in which they are doing work. What is more, landlords may use the threat of eviction to compel tenants to provide access even to persons who are known sex offenders.
For these reasons, it is important that the burden of ensuring that dangerous sex offenders are not employed so as to be able to gain access to tenants' apartments be placed on the landlords who might employ them. This legislation would forbid landlords from employing as superintendents, property managers, or other agents any level two or level three registered sex offenders. Additionally, it would permit tenants to deny access to any registered sex offenders without fear of eviction or other sanction.
While current law forbids landlords from harassing tenants, whether through physical or verbal abuse, willful denial of services, or multiple instances of frivolous litigation, it does not specifically protect tenants from sexual harassment by landlords or their agents. Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature can be used to victimize tenants and to force them from their apartments. By defining sexual harassment as a breach of the warranty of habitability, this legislation gives tenants recourse against such behavior, allowing them to sue landlords who commit or allow their agents to commit sexually harassing acts.
PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY: 2010 - S.6760 Referred to Housing- A.9858 Referred to Codes 2012 - S.987 Referred to Housing Committee
FISCAL IMPLICATIONS: None.
EFFECTIVE DATE: 180 days after it shall have become law.
STATE OF NEW YORK ________________________________________________________________________ 2329 2013-2014 Regular Sessions IN SENATE January 16, 2013 ___________Introduced by Sen. KLEIN -- read twice and ordered printed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee on Housing, Construction and Community Development AN ACT to amend the multiple dwelling law, in relation to prohibiting the owner, agent or operator of a multiple dwelling from hiring as a building superintendent, managing agent, or resident manager any person who is registered as a level two or level three sex offender in New York state, and to amend the real property law, in relation to providing that sexual harassment of a tenant by any owner, agent or operator of a multiple dwelling or any employee or contractor of such owner, agent or operator constitutes a violation of the warranty of habitability THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM- BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS: Section 1. The multiple dwelling law is amended by adding a new section 309-b to read as follows: S 309-B. PROHIBITED HIRING. 1. AN OWNER, AGENT OR OPERATOR OF A MULTIPLE DWELLING SHALL NOT HIRE AS A BUILDING SUPERINTENDENT, MANAGING AGENT OR RESIDENT MANAGER ANY PERSON WHO IS REGISTERED AS A LEVEL TWO OR LEVEL THREE SEX OFFENDER IN THIS STATE PURSUANT TO ARTICLE SIX-C OF THE CORRECTION LAW. 2. NOTWITHSTANDING ANY PROVISION OF LAW TO THE CONTRARY, NO TENANT SHALL BE REQUIRED TO GIVE ACCESS TO HIS OR HER APARTMENT TO ANY PERSON WHO IS A REGISTERED SEX OFFENDER. S 2. The real property law is amended by adding a new section 235-h to read as follows: S 235-H. SEXUAL HARASSMENT. 1. IT SHALL BE UNLAWFUL AND SHALL CONSTI- TUTE A VIOLATION OF THE WARRANTY OF HABITABILITY FOR ANY OWNER, AGENT OR OPERATOR OF A MULTIPLE DWELLING OR FOR ANY EMPLOYEE OR CONTRACTOR OF SUCH OWNER, AGENT OR OPERATOR TO SUBJECT ANY TENANT OF THE BUILDING TO SEXUAL HARASSMENT.EXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets [ ] is old law to be omitted. LBD01816-02-3 S. 2329 2
2. AS USED IN THIS SECTION: (A) "TENANT" MEANS A PERSON OR BUSINESS OCCUPYING OR RESIDING AT THE PREMISES PURSUANT TO A WRITTEN LEASE OR OTHER RENTAL AGREEMENT; AND (B) "SEXUAL HARASSMENT" MEANS UNWELCOME SEXUAL ADVANCES, UNWELCOME REQUESTS FOR SEXUAL FAVORS, AND OTHER UNWELCOME VERBAL OR PHYSICAL CONDUCT OF A SEXUAL NATURE. 3. A TENANT MAY APPLY TO THE SUPREME COURT FOR AN ORDER ENJOINING ACTS OR PRACTICES WHICH CONSTITUTE SEXUAL HARASSMENT UNDER SUBDIVISION ONE OF THIS SECTION; AND UPON SUFFICIENT SHOWING, THE SUPREME COURT MAY ISSUE A TEMPORARY OR PERMANENT INJUNCTION, RESTRAINING ORDER OR OTHER ORDER, ALL OF WHICH MAY, AS THE COURT DETERMINES IN THE EXERCISE OF ITS SOUND DISCRETION, BE GRANTED WITHOUT BOND. IN THE EVENT THE COURT ISSUES A PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION IT SHALL MAKE PROVISION FOR AN EXPEDITIOUS TRIAL OF THE UNDERLYING ACTION. 4. THE POWERS AND REMEDIES SET FORTH IN THIS SECTION SHALL BE IN ADDI- TION TO ALL OTHER POWERS AND REMEDIES IN RELATION TO SEXUAL HARASSMENT INCLUDING THE AWARD OF DAMAGES. NOTHING CONTAINED IN THIS SECTION SHALL BE CONSTRUED TO AMEND, REPEAL, MODIFY OR AFFECT ANY EXISTING LOCAL LAW OR ORDINANCE, OR PROVISION OF THE CHARTER OR ADMINISTRATIVE CODE OF THE CITY OF NEW YORK, OR TO LIMIT OR RESTRICT THE POWER OF THE CITY OF NEW YORK TO AMEND OR MODIFY ANY EXISTING LOCAL LAW, ORDINANCE OR PROVISION OF THE CHARTER OR ADMINISTRATIVE CODE, OR TO RESTRICT OR LIMIT ANY POWER OTHERWISE CONFERRED BY LAW WITH RESPECT TO SEXUAL HARASSMENT. 5. ANY AGREEMENT BY A TENANT IN A WRITTEN LEASE OR OTHER RENTAL AGREE- MENT WAIVING OR MODIFYING HIS OR HER RIGHTS AS SET FORTH IN THIS SECTION SHALL BE VOID AS CONTRARY TO PUBLIC POLICY. S 3. This act shall take effect on the one hundred eightieth day after it shall have become a law.