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Recent NYC tenant protections broad-based, with teeth

New York City legislators have been notably busy over the past several months drafting local laws that a recent New York Law Journal article notes are intended to materially expand tenant protections. The newly enacted statutory housing provisions apply to rent-stabilized and rent-controlled residents across the city.

And they come with some punch and a punitive veneer for bad-faith landlords engaging in actions and enabling housing conditions that the Journal says are demonstrably "intended to get [a] tenant to move out or otherwise waive rights."

Legions of NYC tenants know exactly what that means. It means unannounced maintenance projects and repeated demands to enter units. It means persistent inaction in response to cracked walls, lack of heat and water, rodent infestation, crime in the hallways and so forth. It means harassment, intimidation and legal threats to oust lawful renters from their apartments.

The above-cited laws are aimed at such misconduct and provide aggrieved renters with shored-up protections. Most key, perhaps, is this new law: a rebuttable presumption that a forbidden act is in bad faith and motivated by an ouster intent.

That means this: A tenant must merely prove the act, not a landlord's intent. Bad faith is now presumed, with the burden of disproving it being upon a targeted landlord or property manager.

And then there's this: Harassment can be established by what the Journal notes is "a one-shot loss of essential service" in a unit if any other such interruption has occurred anywhere else in a building.

Bedbugs are a huge problem for many NYC tenants, and new ordinances now address this issue and provide greater protections, as well. Leases now require detailed information on a building's bedbug history. Additionally, landlords are now required to annually solicit bedbug history and information regarding eradication efforts from lessees.

Smoking, too, is a newly addressed subject, with a mandate now requiring affected buildings (all so-called Class A buildings that contain multiple units) to have prominently stated smoking policies.

Myriad other laws, too, now exist to expand renters' protections. The Journal notes that their "net benefit to tenants" is obviously not yet fully understood or established in every case. Questions regarding processes, details and related matters can be directed to seasoned attorneys who routinely advocate aggressively and with proven results on behalf of New York City renters facing housing-related challenges.

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