Tenant Harassment

It is illegal for building owners to force tenants to leave their apartments or surrender their rights. If you are a tenant in a rental unit in the City who is being harassed by your property owner, you can get information and help.  If you are a low-income tenant and/or a senior, you may be eligible for free legal assistance.

Harassment is any act or omission by or on behalf of an owner that causes or is intended to cause a tenant to surrender or waive any rights in relation to the occupancy of their unit. Generally, acts of harassment can include:

  • Not offering leases or lease renewals, or repeatedly trying to pay you to move out of your home or to give up your rights (a buyout) if you are a rent-regulated tenant.
  • Offering you a buyout:
    • While threatening you, intimidating you or using obscene language.
    • By contacting you at your place of employment without obtaining your written permission.
    • While providing false information in connection with the buyout offer.
  • Contacting you about a buyout unless they provide you with the following information in writing:
    • The purpose of the contact and that the contact is on behalf of the owner.
    • That you can reject the offer and continue to live in your home.
    • That you have a right to seek advice from a lawyer and may seek information on the HPD website about legal services.
    • That, if you advise the owner in writing that you do not want to be contacted about any buyout offer, the owner cannot contact you about it for 180 days unless you advise the owner in writing at some earlier time that you are interested in discussing a buyout, or unless the Court permits the owner to discuss a buyout offer with you.
  • Contacting you about a buyout offer for 180 days after you have notified the owner in writing that you do not want to be contacted about it.
  • Unjustified eviction notices or illegal lockouts.
  • Threats and intimidation, such as late-night phone calls including phone calls to encourage or ask you to move out of your home or give up your rights.
  • Overcharging for a rent-regulated apartment.
  • Failure to provide necessary repairs or utilities.
  • Deliberately causing construction-related problems for tenants, such as working after hours, blocking entrances, conducting work without a permit, or failing to remove excessive dust or debris.
  • Repeated interruptions of essential services, such as heat, water, or electricity. 
  • Providing you with misleading information regarding the unit occupancy status or violations; making a false statement or misrepresentation as to a material fact regarding the current occupancy or the rent stabilization status of a building or dwelling unit on any application or construction documents for a permit for work.
  • Repeatedly contacting or visiting any person lawfully entitled to occupancy or such unit during non-business hours when the tenant has not indicated a willingness to have such contact or visit.
  • Commencing a baseless or frivolous court proceeding against a person lawfully entitled to occupancy of such dwelling unit if there is a pattern of such proceedings in a building.
See the tabs below for more information about reporting an issue, how HPD can help, seeking legal assistance, and additional resources.

Seek Legal Assistance

Tenants can initiate an action in Housing Court based on a claim of harassment. 

Free legal assistance is available to low-income tenants who are being harassed by property owners. Residents can call the following legal service providers for more information:

  • Legal Aid Society: (212) 577-3300
  • Legal Services NYC: (917) 661-4500
  • Urban Justice Center: (646) 459-3017

If you are a resident in one of the following zip codes, call the New York City Tenant Protection Hotline at 917-661-4505, Monday – Friday, 10:00am – 4:00pm:

Bronx: 10452, 10453, 10457, 10459, 10460 
Brooklyn: 11206, 11207, 11208, 11212, 11215, 11217, 11231, 11233, 11237
Manhattan: 10029, 10034, 10035
Queens: 11101, 11354, 11358, 11691, 11692
Staten Island: 10301, 10304

Please note that the abovementioned have been identified as areas with an increase in reports of harassment.

Learn more about Legal Assistance.

How HPD Can Help

A property owner's failure to correct dangerous conditions and/or frequent disruptions of or failure to supply water, heat, gas, or electric service may constitute harassment. HPD can investigate claims of harassment due to maintenance issues. If you believe that the owner of your building is withholding essential services or not making repairs to force you to move out of your apartment, contact the HPD Tenant Anti-Harassment Unit (TAHU) by calling 311.

HPD also performs joint inspections of buildings with multiple City and State agencies through the Tenant Harassment Prevention Task Force (THPT).

Additional Resources