Landlord and Tenant Unite to Battle Housing Agency

It took a bureaucratic debacle to bring it on, but a New York City landlord and his tenant have joined forces against a common foe:  the City of New York’s computerized housing system called NICE.

After countless dropped rent payments, NICE has become notorious in New York City for bringing the Section 8 housing program to a virtual standstill for thousands of tenants and landlords.  See our feature NICE Turns Naughty: How a Computer Forced Tenants Out on the Street.

Now,  a never-thought-you’d-see-it landlord and tenant team have banded together to take on NYC’s Housing Authority,  bringing to light the mistakes plaguing so many tenants in the city’s crucial affordable housing program.

According to a news report, prior to the implementation of the city’s multi-million dollar computer upgrade, the tenant in this case was always on time with rent.  But like so many tenants affected by NICE, her housing subsidy suddenly stopped.  There was no warning, and no explanation.

It turns out a housing inspector stopped by the property and noticed that a light fixture and a door hinge were broken, according to the report.  The landlord was notified of the need to repair these items — eight months later.

Meanwhile, the rent subsidies stopped, pending the repair. Both the landlord and tenant remained in the dark as to why the payments were suspended, despite calls to the agency to find out it there was a problem.

The landlord fixed the problem, but was told the only way he could claim back rent payments was to file an eviction against the tenant, according to the report.  He proceeded with the tenant’s consent.

But even that wasn’t enough to escape the bureaucratic black hole the duo has been sucked into.

After taking the matter to the Housing Court, the pair are still getting the runaround on the $20,000 of past due rent.  The landlord told the reporter that the NICE computer system has replaced the case managers who used to be assigned to manage rental housing.  Now, there seems to be no way to navigate the automated system when there is a problem.

And there is nothing nice about that.

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