Imagine coming home to your apartment. You’ve had a long day and you just want to take a hot shower, sit on your couch, watch TV and just relax. But instead of finding comfort and peace at home, you are met with harassment from your landlord.
Sadly, too many tenants in New York City don’t have to imagine this scenario, as it is far too real for them. Instead of being a haven or safe space, their apartment is a battlefield.
What is landlord harassment?
Landlord harassment can take many forms. In the context of the scenario we described above, for instance, harassment could involve:
- Illegally locking you out of your apartment
- Serving you unjustified eviction notices
- Turning off your hot water, electricity or other essential services repeatedly
- Refusing to address or properly repair dangerous or harmful conditions
- Intentionally allowing construction to occur at problematic times, like late at night
- Calling you repeatedly and/or late at night to threaten or intimidate you
- Subjecting you to unfavorable treatment because of your immigration status
- Giving you false information about unit violations or occupancy
- Continuing to try to pay you to move out after you have rejected a buyout offer
Instead of being able to relax and enjoy your home, these and other harassing behaviors can leave you feeling scared and angry.
What can tenants do about it?
Rather than live with the harassment or hope it stops on its own, tenants can take action against a harassing landlord.
First, be sure to keep documentation of harassing behaviors. This includes notices or letters, voicemails, logs of visits or service interruptions, as well as copies of any correspondence you have sent to the landlord.
Tenants may also pursue actions including:
- Initiating a harassment claim action in Housing Court
- Filing a complaint with Housing Preservation & Development
- Calling 311 and speaking with the HPD Tenant Anti-Harassment Unit
- Seeking a restraining order
- Filing a lawsuit seeking damages
- Filing a complaint for discrimination (if you are in a “covered” class) with the New York City Human Rights Commission
If your home is not as sweet as it should be due to landlord harassment, understand that you have rights as a tenant in New York City. And these rights are worth protecting.