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 landlord, you can get information and help. If you are a low income tenant and/or a senior, you may be eligible for free or low-cost legal assistance.
Harassment is any act or omission by or on behalf of an owner that (i) causes or is intended to cause any person lawfully entitled to occupancy of a dwelling unit to vacate such dwelling unit or to surrender or waive any rights in relation to such occupancy, and (ii) falls into a category of acts or omissions identified in the law. Tenants can initiate an action in Housing Court based on a claim of harassment (see more on how you can get assistance with these cases below in Seek Legal Assistance). The Court is to presume that certain acts or omissions in a multiple dwelling were intended to cause such person to vacate such dwelling unit or to surrender or waive any rights in relation to such occupancy, unless the property owner can provide satisfactory evidence otherwise. There are civil penalties which can be assessed against a property if Housing Court determines that there has been harassment. The Court may also award compensatory damages, reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs and/or punitive damages.
Generally, acts of harassment can include:
Contact the Tenant Harassment Prevention Task Force (THPT).
Mayor de Blasio has created a program to provide legal assistance to low-income tenants who are being harassed by landlords who are trying to take advantage of zoning changes by getting rid of tenants. If you are a resident in one of the following Zip codes, you can call the New York City Tenant Protection Hotline at (917) 661-4505, Mon – Fri: 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM:
Bronx: Zip Codes 10452 and 10453
Brooklyn: Zip codes 11207, 11208, 11212, and 11233
Manhattan: Zip codes 10029 and 10035
Queens: Zip codes 11101, 11354, and 11358
Staten Island: Zip codes 10301 and 10304
New York City also continues to provide free legal service assistance for qualified tenants throughout the City. Residents can call the following legal service providers for more information:
More information about Legal Assistance.
Housing Court Answers also provides information about Court procedures, landlord/tenant rules and regulations, enforcement of housing code violations, referrals for free legal help, and referrals to community organizations that help with housing problems. HCA is present in each borough's Housing Court, and can be reached on its hotline at 212-962-4795 from Tuesday through Thursday, 9:00am-5:00pm.
Report dangerous conditions or lack of services through 311. City agencies will protect tenant rights by enforcing building and housing code compliance, conducting inspections, and issuing violations when appropriate. Tenants can use the reporting of a complaint and issuance of any subsequent violations to support either a Housing Court or a New York State Homes and Community Renewal (HCR) action regarding harassment.
If a court of competent jurisdiction finds harassment, the court may issue an order restraining the owner of the property from continuing to harass the tenant. A civil penalty of $1,000-$10,000 may be imposed for each dwelling unit in which a tenant or any person lawfully entitled to occupancy of such unit has been harassed. If the tenant/legal occupant establishes that there was a previous finding of harassment against such owner and the finding was made within the preceding five year period after March 29th, 2015, the court shall impose a civil penalty in an amount between $2,000-$10,000.
Under Local Law 47 of 2014, HPD will post on its website the addresses of buildings where there has been a finding of harassment by a court of competent jurisdiction, when the agency receives such information. The list includes the name of the respondent, the civil penalty imposed in the case, and the date such penalty was imposed.
Updated April 2018