In response to the recent spate of rent regulated building owners intentionally destroying units in attempts to drive tenants out, Senator Martin Malavé Dilan (D-Bushwick) and Assemblyman Joseph R. Lentol (D-North Brooklyn) have introduced new legislation making the practice a criminal act.
S. 6941 would expand tenant protections by establishing the crime of Sabotage of Rent Regulated Accommodations, a class D felony. Existing tenant protections prohibit the harassment of rent regulated tenants in an attempt to drive them out. However, the recent rise in intentional destruction of regulated units, and the severity of the damage, are well beyond the scope of current law.
A bill in the state legislature would criminalize the act of “rent sabotage,” making it a felony for landlords to destroy their own buildings in the hopes of forcing out tenants living in rent-controlled units.
The measure was introduced this month following continued reports of hostilities between renters and property owners in increasingly gentrified Brooklyn neighborhoods. Tenants who've spent many years in the same apartments without problems have accused landlords of sending in men with sledgehammers and power saws to make the properties unliveable.
Governor Cuomo announced that the state’s Tenant Protection Unit (TPU) has served a subpoena on JBI Management to investigate allegations of intentionally sabotaging rent regulated apartments to drive tenants out.
Senator Dilan introduced legislation to bolster the state’s Tenant Protection Unit’s ability to root out unscrupulous landlords. The measure would make sabotage of a rent regulated unit a felony. Harassment of tenants is currently a felony under existing law.