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 On the second anniversary of the creation of the new Tenant Protection Unit, New York’s Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced the first expansion of rent-regulated affordable housing in decades as more than 28,000 new apartments in 2,000 buildings have been added to the rent-stabilization rolls.

Two years ago, we created the Tenant Protection Unit to protect the rights and safety of more than one million tenants in New York State, Governor Cuomo said. Since then, the TPU has fought and won for tenants time and again including expanding the number of affordable housing units for the first time in years and holding bad landlords accountable for their actions.”

The TPU was created in February, 2012 to actively enforce the State’s rent laws, including tenant protections added in 2011. Among its first actions, the TPU conducted a random audit of building owners who, in the last four years, had failed to register rental properties as required by law.

The TPU also audited owners and required them to produce proof of building improvements that have been the basis for increases in rent and that were used in the past to move units out of regulation.

For the first time, the TPU sent subpoenas to owners who failed to comply with its requests for proof. As a result of these actions, more than 28,000 new apartments in 2,000 buildings have been added to the rent-stabilization rolls.

Another first for the TPU: Owners accused of overcharging tenants have entered into settlement agreements totaling $220,000, which was returned to tenants. Most recently, the TPU secured a settlement against a landlord who had reportedly harassed and discriminated against Spanish-speaking tenants. Landlords are now required to provide documents in Spanish to Spanish-speaking tenants.

“We know that the vast majority of landlords are law-abiding businesspeople who want to work with their tenants, and the TPU has been effective and efficient in rooting out a relative handful of bad apples,” says Commissioner and CEO Darryl C. Towns of New York State Homes and Community Renewal (HRC), which includes the TPU.

HCR has also issued comprehensive regulations that will govern new rent laws. These important changes include:
Clarifying how apartment improvements are calculated and verified;
Raising the deregulation rent threshold;
Raising the income threshold; and,
Limiting vacancy bonuses to only one per year, preventing landlords from pushing some units out of the system.

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