Landlords are objecting to a newly created state agency designed to investigate landlords who violate rent regulation laws. They say the investigations “violate rules of due process and misuse subpoenas” to intimidate landlords who own small buildings, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Before the creation of the state agency, called Tenant Protection Unit, last year, the burden was on each individual tenant to take their landlord to court for violating rent regulation laws. There was no oversight of a pattern of rule breaking, and it would be difficult for ex-tenants to track whether landlords illegally deregulated apartments after they moved out. According to the Journal:
In its first year, the Tenant Protection Unit mainly conducted audits, looking at landlords who failed to file registration forms. It also asked landlords to document their spending on vacant-apartment improvements. In the past, landlords had to provide such documents only when a tenant filed an objection. The result, the unit said in a June news release, was to add back 20,000 apartments in 2,000 buildings to the rent-stabilized rolls. Landlords said much of that gain was because of clerical errors being corrected that didn’t change rents paid by tenants. Mitchell Posilkin, general counsel to the Rent Stabilization Association, a landlord group, said the review of renovations of vacant apartments was arbitrary and snared smaller landlords, who sometimes worked with contractors without formal record keeping. Tenant Marquetta Bell, a military veteran, said residents were concerned about an influx of new tenants from outside the neighborhood who were paying much higher market rents in apartments that were deregulated after renovation.
As reported last week, the Tenant Protection Unit is investigating a landlord with buildings in Crown Heights (above) and Flatbush who appears to be flagrantly violating the law. A tenant advocacy group in Crown Heights has complained about landlords in the area who they say kick out regulated tenants and illegally charge new tenants higher rents in regulated buildings.
Do you think landlords are being unduly burdened with requests for record keeping, or are they upset because the state is making it harder for them to break the law?