Tenants' Bill of Rights Law
Met Council on Housing took a lead role in drafting Intro 477, the Tenants' Bill of Rights Law, which is currently before the NY City Council.
Once passed and enacted, the law would require that a summary of tenants' basic rights be posted in a visible location in the lobby of every privately-owned residential building containing at least three apartments. The law would also require that the same summary of rights are presented to all tenants along with their leases.
The city would furnish copies of the Bill of Rights for posting. The final Bill of Rights will be translated and made available in all of the major languages in New York City.
Help us curb the abuse of tenants' rights by joining the effort to pass this bill!
What is the Tenants' Bill of Rights Law?
Intro 477, the Tenants' Bill of Rights Law, is pending legislation at the New York City Council, which the Metropolitan Council on Housing helped to draft and is now working to pass. The law is simple: it would require that a poster summarizing the basic rights of tenants is displayed in the lobby of every privately-owned residential building with at least three apartments, and that this same summary is given to tenants along with their leases.
What does the Tenants' Bill of Rights say?
There are two ways that you can read the Tenants' Bill of Rights poster itself:
- Download the Tenants' Bill of Rights poster (PDF), or
- Read the Tenants' Bill of Rights poster online.
Why do we need a Tenants' Bill of Rights?
At Met Council on Housing we encounter thousands of New York City tenants who are taken advantage of every year due to their lack of knowledge of their existing rights. Landlords use this knowledge gap to trick tenants with below-market rents into giving up their apartments, and to avoid providing essential repairs and services. A law requiring that a summary of key rights be posted in building lobbies across New York City is one step in preventing egregious violations of the tenants' rights that we have fought so hard to win.
How can we pass Intro 477?
As of March 2012, 33 New York City Councilmembers are co-sponsors of the Tenants' Bill of Rights Law. That's enough for it to pass - and to override a Mayoral veto if it comes down to that. But no action has yet been taken to move this bill through the legislative process. To help us pass this law:
- Find out who your City Council Member is, and what his/her phone number is, by calling 311, or by searching on the New York Ciity Council website.
- Check our list (below) of current co-sponsors of Intro 477 - the Tenants' Bill of Rights Law.
- Contact your Council Member in the following ways:
- If your Council Member is already a co-sponsor, call and say "thank you for sponsoring the Tenants' Bill of Rights Law - will you help us pass this by urging Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Housing Committee Chair Erik Dilan to allow this bill to come up for a vote?"
- If your Council Member is not a co-sponsor, call and say "please add your name as a co-sponsor to Intro 477, the Tenants' Bill of Rights Law!"
Do tenants really not know their rights?
At Met Council on Housing's tenants' rights hotline and at our clinic, we hear from tenants whose landlords threaten to perform evictions without going to court, who tell tenants to pay for their own repairs or extermination, and to buy a space heater if building heat is inadequate. We hear from many tenants whose landlords press them to sign lease riders that strip their rights away, or who try to intimidate them into leaving their apartments. There are too many landlords who take advantage of a lack of basic information to trick tenants with below-market rents into giving up their apartments, or who pocket more by foregoing essential repairs and services. When tenants know that their landlords cannot evict them without first going to court, they are much less likely to unnecessarily sign agreements to move. When tenants ask their landlords for necessary repairs or services and nothing happens, often they don't know what to do next. It's empowering for tenants to know that they don't have to just wait - that they can start an HP Action for repairs and services in Housing Court.
How can a poster and flyer adequately address the complexity of NYC tenant law?
In crafting the Tenants' Bill of Rights law with lead sponsor Fernando Cabrera and other groups, Met Council on Housing's goal was to come up with a document that highlighted key rights, was brief enough that people would choose to read it, and written in language that most people could understand. That posed a major challenge, as there are a variety of tenancies in New York City offering different sets of rights, and many of the laws are complex, nuanced, and can even be confusing to advocates and lawyers. We addressed this by deciding not try to squeeze everything a tenant needs to know onto the poster and flyer, but rather, to reference key areas of tenants' rights and encourage tenants to seek out other resources where they can get more detailed explanations of these rights, as well as information about topics the poster and flyer do not address. The Tenants' Bill of Rights Law requires that New York City's Department of Housing Preservation & Development make available a more comprehensive tenants' rights guide covering a wider range of topics and clearer guidance on how to assert these rights on their website, and in printed form upon request.
Which New York City Council members support the Tenants' Bill of Rights?
As of March 2012, the current co-sponsors of Intro 477, the Tenants' Bill of Rights Law, are:
Gale A. Brewer
Fernando Cabrera (lead sponsor)
Margaret S. Chin
Maria Del Carmen Arroyo
Inez E. Dickens
Helen D. Foster
Daniel R. Garodnick
Sara M. Gonzalez
David G. Greenfield
Daniel J. Halloran III,
G. Oliver Koppell
|Brad S. Lander
Stephen T. Levin
Domenic M. Recchia, Jr.
Ydanis A. Rodriguez
Deborah L. Rose
Larry B. Seabrook
James G. Van Bramer
Mark S. Weprin
Jumaane D. Williams