Governor Cuomo announced in his State of the State address today that the state would create a foreclosure relief and tenant protection unit. From the address:
Foreclosure Prevention Assistance: Creation of a Foreclosure Relief Unit
The financial crisis has taken a terrible toll on our state’s homeowners, forcing many out of their homes and putting many others at risk of foreclosure. Banks are unable or unwilling to renegotiate loans, and many of their foreclosure practices were questionable. Last year, I announced the new Department of Financial Services to provide meaningful oversight of our banks. The Department of Financial Services was a New York State innovation, combining financial regulation with consumer protection.
This year, I’m proud to announce that DFS is fully functioning and will soon include a Foreclosure Relief Unit to provide counseling and mediation services to help New Yorkers stay in their homes. We need to resolve this crisis so we can move on.
Creating a Tenant Protection Unit
Last year, we enacted the strongest rent regulations in 30 years. However, we have learned that tough laws on the books are not enough. Now, we must make sure those laws and regulations are being enforced.
While most landlords follow the law, there are still some bad actors and they must be held accountable. We will create the Tenant Protection Unit, which will be a part of an aggressive protection and landlord fraud prevention initiative housed in New York State Homes and Community Renewal. The Tenant Protection Unit will proactively enforce landlord obligations and impose strict penalties for failure to comply with New York’s rent laws. Specifically, the Unit will investigate owners who may be involved in fraudulent schemes to deregulate apartments and thereby eliminate Rent Stabilization Law protections; commence overcharge proceedings against owners who are gouging tenants; and prosecute owners who fail to maintain basic building services such as heat and hot water. The Unit is just one part of my administration’s plan to ensure that we are protecting the rights of the over one million tenants in rent stabilized apartments. The initiative includes developing state of the art technology to improve compliance monitoring and fraud detection. We will also improve outreach, service and notice to tenants.
These efforts will help to preserve the supply of safe and affordable housing in New York. Too many tenants have been abused for too long and it stops now.