Flushing-based lawmaker’s bill protecting immigrant tenants from harassment passes

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Immigrant tenants may soon have additional protections under the law after a Flushing lawmaker’s bill cleared the NYC Council.

Councilman Peter Koo’s bill, which was approved by the City Council on Dec. 11, bars landlords from asking immigrant tenants for proof of citizenship. The piece of legislation now awaits Mayor Bill de Blasio’s signature.

First introduced in August, Koo’s bill will amend the definition of harassment under the Housing Maintenance Code to include discriminatory threats and requests for proof of citizenship. Tenants will be allowed to bring harassment claims against landlords for such actions in Housing Court.

Requesting proof of citizenship after a current government-issued I.D. has already been provided will also be considered harassment under the revised code.

Landlords convicted of harassment are subject to civil penalties between $1,000 and $10,000, according to Koo.

“The message this legislation sends to bad landlords is clear: if you harass your tenants, or make any threat based on status, you will face consequences,” the lawmaker said. “In New York City, we support and stand by our immigrant communities, and this legislation will provide additional protections from harassment. Expanding this definition of harassment allows tenants to bring claims directly against landlords in housing court. And we are making a statement that all are welcome here.”

Earlier this year, city’s Human Rights Commission pursued charges against a Ridgewood landlord for allegedly harassing immigrant tenants in his building, including threatening to report them to federal immigration officials, after they filed a discrimination complaint against him.

The NYC Human Rights Law explicitly prohibits retaliation for filing discrimination claims with the commission.

De Blasio has scheduled a hearing on the bill for Dec. 18. The full bill can be viewed here.