Council Passes Bill to Allow for Tenant Complaints and Inspections of Unoccupied Apartments

Image credit: New York City Council.

On December 6, 2023, the City Council voted to approve Int. 195-B, which creates a path for tenants to report housing maintenance code violations for unoccupied units in their buildings. The bill, sponsored by Council Member Carlina Rivera, provides a way for tenants to have their concerns addressed when conditions in unoccupied apartments are impacting tenants in other apartments. 

Previously, the Department of Housing Preservation and Development was not required to inspect unoccupied units. This new bill allows tenants to call 311 to report unsafe conditions in unoccupied apartments and have Housing Preservation and Development inspect the unoccupied unit and issue necessary violations for hazardous conditions. The agency would also be required to publish these violations on its website to provide more transparency. 

Inspectors would be allowed to check for, among other things, mold, pests, accumulated trash, smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors, leaks and defective plumbing, and unsecured openings. This bill will go into effect 210 days after it becomes law. 

Council Member Rivera stated, “ I’m proud to pass legislation that will codify the requirement for landlords to keep unoccupied units in good repair and create a reporting mechanism that allows the inspection of vacant units that are negatively impacting quality of life. Failure to maintain units, keeping units vacant, and warehousing units is a classic strategy used by landlords to displace people, and up until now the law allowed unscrupulous landlords to use neglected units to their advantage. All New Yorkers deserve healthy homes, and this bill empowers HPD to further protect tenants’ wellbeing.”

By: Veronica Rose (Veronica is the Editor of CityLand and a New York Law School graduate, Class of 2018.)



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