Bill would require equal access to NYC tenant amenities

March 9, 2014 12:11:26 PM PDT
A New York lawmaker is proposing legislation requiring that buildings offer equal access to all tenants to building amenities and common areas.

The bill proposed by Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal would penalize discriminatory landlord practices of offering amentiies to market rate tenants, and prohibiting access for rent-regulated tenants.

Rosenthal says she heard from numerous tenants who were prohibited from new amenities and common areas, such as fitness rooms, rooftop decks, pools, and playrooms, which were reserved exclusively for market rate tenants.

The bill will fine landlords who violate this new section of law: landlords found guilty would be subject to a $25,000 fine and forfeit rent increases until the violation is cured.

"I am angered by reports that landlords across the city are creating separate and unequal living conditions for different classes of tenants," said Rosenthal. "This kind of insidious segregation has no place in New York City, with its long tradition of inclusivity and diversity. Once my bill becomes law, landlords will no longer be able to relegate rent-regulated tenants to second-class status in their own homes."

Recently, the owners of Stonehenge Village, a building on the Upper West Side, sparked a controversy by offering access to the building's new gym to market rate tenants only.

According New York City Public Advocate Tish James, who has been working with the rent-regulated tenants at the Stonehenge Village, "Treating rent-regulated tenants like second class citizens is inherently immoral and I support Assemblywoman Rosenthal's legislation to protect tenants from unfair treatment. We must do everything in our power to prevent 'separate but equal' from becoming the status quo in these buildings." She has filed a discrimination complaint with the New York City Human Rights Commission on the tenant's behalf.

Rosenthal said she has been contacted by tenants in other buildings in her district who have been treated similarly unfairly by their landlords, including those at the Greystone, located at 212 West 91st Street, who have been prohibited from using a new gym, despite offers to pay a monthly fee to use it.

"This kind of discrimination sends the message that rent-regulated tenants are second-class citizens, somehow not as good or deserving as market rate tenants," said Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal. "It is unfair, damaging to the tenants and their families and the social fabric of this city, and it must be stopped."