Settlement Curbs Alleged Harassment of Immigrant Tenants in NYC

January 29, 2014
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New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo recently announced a major settlement agreement to resolve allegations of harassment and intimidation of mainly Spanish-speaking immigrant residents in nearly 1,800 units in 49 buildings in New York City.

Complaints against the landlord led to an investigation by the New York State Tenant Protection Unit (TPU), which enforces state laws protecting residents in nearly one-million rent-regulated units. Among other things, the landlord was accused of violating state law by requesting that residents provide documents proving income or Social Security numbers to determine citizenship status.

In some cases, residents claimed that the owner’s staff threatened them by saying that they could face eviction because of their immigration status or failure to prove adequate income. Residents also said they were pressured to accept inadequate buyouts to leave their rent-regulated homes and to waive their rights through English-only settlement documents—even though they couldn’t read English.

As part of the settlement, the company agreed to:

  • Establish a $100,000 fund to compensate tenants who may have been subject to wrongful conduct;
  • Allow residents who may have been improperly removed or forced to vacate their homes to move back to a similar apartment;
  • Hire a monitor to ensure compliance with the settlement for up to three years;
  • Provide all future communication and documents directed to residents in both English and Spanish; and
  • Adopt written policies and procedures, and require employee training, to prevent future violations of local, state, and federal fair housing and antidiscrimination laws.

"When my administration created the TPU almost two years ago, we made it clear that we would hold landlords who harass and bully tenants accountable," Cuomo said in a statement. "All New Yorkers deserve to be treated fairly, no matter where they come from. This settlement serves as a reminder to landlords that there will be real consequences if they try to intimidate their tenants based on their background, citizenship, or legal status.”

Source: New York Governor’s Office