New York City Public Advocate Bill de Blasio has unveiled a multi-pronged approach to addressing housing violations at city buildings.
The plan includes a partnership with Craiglist.org, under which the organization will post the city's Worst Landlords Watchlist on its site to help protect tenants.
De Blasio said the partnership is one piece of an eight-point plan to crack down on "bad" landlords — and warn them that there are also economic consequences to their actions. He said it would also help close loopholes in the current law that allow those landlords to benefit.
"There are literally landlords in the city violating the law, not providing heat and hot water, not providing necessary repairs, you know, serious health and safety violations," he said. "But at the same time they're turning to the city for subsidies. They're trying to lease buildings to the city and profit from it."
The plan includes proposals to block landlords with severe violations from receiving money through programs like Section 8. De Blasio's also backing state legislation to create mandatory minimum fines for serious housing violations. Many of the proposals in his plan would require state or city approval.
Dan Margulies, executive director of Associated Builders and Owners of Greater New York, said he supports proposals that would hold landlords with violations accountable. But, he did have some reservations about the city's Watchlist. "I was just concerned in looking at the proposal that is would label someone with a long history of violations as a quote "worst landlord," but also might label someone who buys a building with a long history of violations as a quote "worst landlord" when their intent is to improve the property," he said.
Margulies also said other proposals — like the ones that would bar landlords with severe violations from leasing to the city, or receiving money from housing programs — are more complicated than they look, because there could be minority partners not responsible for the day-to-day management of the building that could potentially be held accountable "for things they have no control over."