Harassment of tenants can take many forms, and it can take place at any time of the day or night. Sometimes you’ll need to call the police if a landlord has crossed certain lines of lawful behavior. But you’ll also have to reach out to other agencies to help you.
Who should I call?
In New York City, call 311 when repairs are not made after numerous requests to your landlord. Calling 311 is your best friend. They will send inspectors who make sure your landlord does the repairs. If your landlord does nothing, you have the right to seek HP enforcement at the Housing Court for your borough. HPD will provide you a lawyer to ensure that State codes are met for any repairs you seek.
The Housing Court Answers free hotline is also very helpful: 212-962-4795.
You should know that you can reach out to your elected official. Here’s a link to a master list of NYC government departments.
For example, if you’re facing eviction and lack funds, you qualify to receive a one-time emergency relief disbursement. Your Council or Assembly Person for your district can assist you in obtaining this.
Beware retired, fixed income tenants living on pension, welfare, or disability income: you are especially vulnerable to harassment from abusive landlords. They can use litigation to tie you down and wear you out. You may not be able to cope with the costs of fighting a prolonged legal battle.
What other agencies can help me?
The New York Attorney General’s Office Tenants Right Guide. The NY Attorney General’s office publishes a Tenants Right Guide for all New York renters that includes basic information on the rights and responsibilities of tenants. http://www.ag.ny.gov/sites/default/files/pdfs/publications/Tenants_Rights.pdf
New York State Homes and Community Renewal. This agency is the umbrella organization for all of New York State’s housing and community renewal agencies. It serves as a centralized hub of current information for tenants, landlords, and other stakeholders.
New York State Tenant Protection Unit. The TPU is a new law enforcement unit set up in 2012 by Gov. Cuomo’s historic Budget and Reform Plan to protect tenants. Launched in 2012, TPU’s purpose is to “proactively investigate and root out fraud and illegality by landlords of rent regulated apartments.” The unit is headed by Deputy Commissioner Richard R. White.
To contact the TPU, write to:
NYS Homes & Community Renewal
Tenant Protection Unit
92-31 Union Hall Street
Jamaica, NY 11433