Does your landlord use ‘construction as harassment?’

| Feb 3, 2017 | Premises Liability

If you talk to any native or long-time New York resident, you encounter horror stories of diabolical landlords who do everything possible to chase out their long-term, rent-regulated tenants.

Last month, the tenant coalition for the Lower East Side, Stand for Tenant Safety, joined forces with the Manhattan Borough president to send a strong message to some New York City property owners. They are targeting landlords and building owners who use “construction as harassment” techniques designed to send residents fleeing out of fear for their own safety.

At a town hall meeting on Jan. 10 held at the Municipal Building located at 1 Centre Street, residents directed their frustration at the Buildings Department for its foot-dragging on dealing with this issue.

Some cited examples as this form of harassment included:

— Shutting off the gas in winter

— Collapsing drywall

— Windows and doors removed

— Nighttime construction

— Cracking and collapsed drywall from jackhammers being used

— Toxic clouds of dust and/or fumes being released into the air

One Soho man at last month’s meeting even had to resort to entering his Spring St. building via the basement of the business adjacent to it, scaling the fire escape in the rear and climbing in his apartment window. His landlord, in a futile attempt to drive him out, had changed the lock on the front door.

When that didn’t work, the landlord disrupted power for over a week, installed pipes during the night, poked holes into the walls and ceilings of his apartment and collapsed one wall.

It’s easy to see how those actions could create health and safety risks for residents, leading to injuries and conditions that could give rise to premises liability litigation.

Residents claimed that the Building Department using a “self-certification process” to determine occupancy of buildings is abused by dishonest landlords who claim buildings full of rent-regulated tenants are “unoccupied” in order to get permits for construction.

If you were injured in a slip, trip or fall due to a landlord’s construction as harassment tactics, you may be able to seek compensation through the filing of a premises liability lawsuit.

Source: The Villager, “Building a movement vs. construction harassment,” Eileen Stukane, accessed Feb. 03, 2017