FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednesday, November 29, 2017
CONTACT: Matthew Creegan, 212-863-7879

 

HPD AND CITY COUNCIL WORK TO HALT AGGRESSIVE ACQUISITIONS WITH NEW BILL 

City Council and HPD work to create a “Speculation Watch List” in a collaborative effort to curb displacement and prevent loss of affordable housing in New York City

 

NEW YORK, NY – The New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) Commissioner Maria Torres-Springer joins New York City Councilmembers Ritchie Torres and Daniel Garodnick to announce a new bill that aims to preemptively combat predatory equity practices in New York City. Intro 1210, better known as the Predatory Equity Bill, which is being voted out of the full Council tomorrow, will call for HPD to publish a “Speculation Watch List,” identifying recently sold rentregulated buildings where tenants are at risk of displacement due to potentially predatory investors. 

“The City is working on multiple fronts to stop tenant harassment in its tracks, and to protect residents from the looming threats that predatory investment poses to communities. The new Speculation Watch List harnesses the power of data to identify sales that signal the potential for harassment and distress, adding yet another tool to our multifaceted approach to combat tenant harassment and safeguard affordability for our city’s residents,” said Housing Preservation and Development Commissioner Maria Torres-Springer. “I want to thank the City Council, especially Councilmembers Ritchie Torres and Dan Garodnick, and the many housing advocates who partnered with us to develop this innovative approach to addressing the problems that stem from predatory purchases of multifamily properties.”

“This new, innovative legislation will ensure that the City and HPD will have the tools necessary to monitor buildings where potential displacement of residents may occur. It will help us better understand how predatory equity is impacting our City and how to better protect tenants. I look forward to a continued partnership with HPD and advocates to further expand the tools we have available to prevent financial speculation of buildings that can lead to tenant displacement,” said Council Member Ritchie Torres

"If landlords have a business plan that virtually guarantees harassment of tenants, we will make sure every New Yorker is prepared," said Council Member Dan Garodnick. "With our Speculation Watch List, we are putting bad actors on notice, empowering tenants, and helping to keep families in their homes." 

The Speculation Watch List will be an innovative combination of data analysis techniques and on-theground organizing, using HPD’s preexisting datasets and resources. The legislation requires that HPD complete the list within the next 10 months, updating its findings quarterly. When published, the speculation watch list will be available to the public via Open Data and will serve as a resource for tenants and tenant organizations, as well as an indicator for city and state agencies of possible tenant harassment patterns. 

HPD will look primarily for sales transactions of rent-regulated buildings with low capitalization rates— buildings with sales prices higher than expected when compared to similar market transactions—as an indicator for predatory owners drastically raising rents, and in some cases engaging in tenant harassment, to increase profits.

The bill, a significant milestone for tenant harassment legislation in New York City, was heavily supported by a number of advocacy groups around the city and will go into effect immediately after signing. 

“Stabilizing NYC is a Coalition that combines legal, advocacy and organizing resources into a citywide network to help tenants take their predatory equity landlords to task for patchwork repairs, bogus eviction cases, and affirmative harassment,” said Stabilizing NYC Coordinator of Community Development Project of the Urban Justice Center Jackie Del Valle. “We commend Council Member Torres and HPD for their commitment to this legislation. We look forward to continued work with the Council and HPD on its implementation. This is a critical step in addressing the predatory equity driven speculation that causes tenant harassment and displacement, which our Coalition witnesses in neighborhood after neighborhood, building by building.”

“When buildings with rent-regulated units are bought and sold at ever-increasing prices, the result too often is that long-term tenants face harassment and pressure to move out so that rents can increase. The creation of a “speculation watch list” is an important step towards protecting tenants from this cycle of real estate speculation in New York City,” said UHAB Assistant Director of Organizing and Policy Samantha Kattan. “We applaud the leadership of Councilman Ritchie Torres in moving this legislation forward so that the city can begin tracking and addressing the displacement pressure that tenants face when their buildings have been purchased at speculative prices.” 

This new measure is the latest in a series of efforts to protect tenants from harassment and displacement as part of the Mayor's comprehensive Housing New York plan. The City recently released Housing New York 2.0, which will accelerate the production of 200,000 affordable homes by 2022, and expand the plan to create or preserve 300,000 affordable homes by 2026. HNY 2.0 includes a series of new programs, including the new Neighborhood Pillars Program, a $275 million fund to help non-profit community-based organizations acquire rent-stabilized buildings, ensuring that these buildings are preserved for lowincome renters who are vulnerable to displacement.

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The New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) is the nation’s largest municipal housing preservation and development agency. Its mission is to promote quality housing and diverse, thriving neighborhoods for New Yorkers through loan and development programs for new affordable housing, preservation of the affordability of the existing housing stock, enforcement of housing quality standards, and educational programs for tenants and building owners. HPD is tasked with fulfilling Mayor de Blasio’s Housing New York Plan which was recently expanded and accelerated through Housing New York 2.0 to complete the initial goal of 200,000 homes two years ahead of schedule—by 2022, and achieve an additional 100,000 homes over the following four years, for a total of 300,000 homes by 2026. For full details visit www.nyc.gov/hpd and for regular updates on HPD news and services, connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @NYCHousing.