Harassment by an owner to force tenants out of their apartments is illegal. Examples of harassment include consistent withholding of services and persistent physical or psychological intimidation.
In buildings with rent-controlled or rent-stabilized apartments, tenants who believe their building owners are harassing them should contact the New York State Department of Housing and Community Renewal (DHCR). DHCR enforces the housing laws regarding such rent-regulated apartments and may levy fines against owners guilty of harassment.
If the apartment is not rent-controlled or rent-stabilized, tenants may have a basis to bring legal action against the owner in HousingCourt and may be able to collect damages. Tenants may want to consult with or retain an attorney before initiating any lawsuit. Tenants who cannot afford representation may be eligible for free or inexpensive legal assistance from the Legal Aid Society.HPD's Fair Housing Counselors can also give tenants legal assistance. Dial 311 for information.