Under local law, if a residential building meets any of the following criteria the property owner must apply for and receive a Certification of No Harassment (CONH) before applying to the Department of Buildings (DOB) for a permit to change the use or occupancy of a building or to demolish a building or any part thereof. These requirements apply if the building is:
The CONH process is intended to ensure that the owner or its predecessors did not further proposed alteration or demolition projects by harassing lawful occupants into leaving or otherwise depriving lawful occupants of their rights during the statutory review period. The Housing Litigation Division (HLD) investigates to determine whether harassment occurred during the applicable inquiry period. If HPD determines that there is reasonable cause to believe that harassment occurred, HLD initiates HPD's case at the Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings (OATH), which makes findings of fact and recommendations as to whether harassment occurred. Based on OATH’s recommendations, the Commissioner of HPD or the Commissioner's designee then determines whether to issue the CONH. A denial of the CONH prevents the owner from obtaining any permits to materially alter or demolish the building for a period of years under the applicable law.
To apply for a CONH, a property owner must complete the application and pay the required fee as noted on the application (Note: this fee will increase to $160 per existing unit for applications submitted after July 1, 2018).
Local Law 1 2018 (effective September 28, 2018) establishes a three-year pilot program which requires owners of certain buildings to obtain a Certification of No Harassment (CONH) prior to acquiring permits from the Department of Buildings (DOB) for work involving demolition or change in use/occupancy. As set forth in the law, buildings with high levels of physical distress or ownership changes in certain targeted areas of the City will be placed on a building list. Also included on the list will be buildings that are the subject of a full vacate order, have been active participants in the alternative enforcement program for more than four months since February 1, 2016 and buildings in which there has been a finding of harassment within the last five years by a court or by New York State Homes and Community Renewal.
Property owners of buildings on the list will be required to receive a CONH from the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) before the Department of Buildings (DOB) can approval new construction applications for an initial or reinstated permit to perform certain covered categories of work.
Covered categories of construction work:
Applications are required to be submitted to HPD. Please see the application for complete instructions about how to apply and information regarding the submission of additional documents. Beginning in 2019, owners will be able to submit applications online.
HPD will investigate CONH applications to determine whether there has been harassment of tenants at such building within the five-year period preceding the application. Once a building owner subject to the program applies for a CONH, building tenants, community groups, the community board, and elected officials will be notified. HPD will collect comments from current and former tenants and conduct an investigation to determine whether there is evidence of harassment within the previous five years. If HPD determines evidence of harassment exists, a hearing will be held at the Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings (OATH).
The OATH judge makes a recommendation as to whether harassment occurred based on the evidence heard and, based on that recommendation, the HPD Commissioner will grant or deny the CONH. If the owner is denied a CONH, the owner will be precluded from receiving building permits for the covered categories of work for five years, or, in the alternative, the owner may construct a certain percentage of low income housing units to address the harassment finding