Yonkers Proposal Would Punish ‘Deadbeat’ Landlords

Real Estate In-Depth | January 2019

From left, Yonkers City Council Minority Leader Mike Breen, Mayor Mike Spano, City Councilman John Rubbo, City Councilwoman Corazon Pineda-Isaac and Housing and Buildings Commissioner Vincent Pici

YONKERS, NY—Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano and City Councilwoman Corazon Pineda-Isaac announced on Jan. 8 that they have proposed a bill that would target negligent or deadbeat landlords to pay costs now incurred by the city to relocate tenants from their unsafe properties.

“After numerous condemnations of multi-family homes in Yonkers due to landlords not providing safe and secure buildings to their tenants, it became very evident that the city needs to hold these landlords more accountable for their negligence,” said Mayor Spano. “Many times, after a building is deemed unsafe, residents often are displaced with limited options for alternative shelter. Deadbeat landlords typically don’t pay to provide other housing for their tenants, leaving the city to incur emergency costs to ensure our residents have a warm place to stay.”

According to the proposed legislation, should the condition of a building rise to the need for relocation of its residents as a result of negligent or intentional acts of the building owner and the City of Yonkers incurs expenses to house and feed the tenants, the landlord must reimburse costs incurred by the city. Expenses under this local law would include but not be limited to departmental costs, overtime, temporary security, moving expenses or other reasonable allowances given to induce tenants to relocate voluntarily. Additionally, the City of Yonkers may bring action against the owner for recovery of such expenses, city officials noted.

The bill, which is expected to be considered by the Yonkers City Council in the coming weeks, would amend the local law “Unsafe Buildings and Dangerous Structures” City Code by adding a subsection mandating the costs and expenses that the City of Yonkers incurs for relocating tenants be reimbursed by the negligent building owner.

Since November 2018, the Yonkers Department of Housing and Buildings has condemned seven multi-unit homes and two, two-family homes, displacing dozens of families. Normally, the city relocates displaced tenants to the Yonkers PAL for temporary housing. On average, the City of Yonkers spends more than $10,000 of taxpayer funds for every 20 people per 24 hours displaced.

“Landlords have to be held accountable for their action, or in this case, inaction,” said Councilwoman Corazon Pineda-Isaac. “Tenants should feel secure, and live in conditions that are adequate without any fear of being displaced from their homes. Tenants should not be inconvenienced because of circumstances that occur through no fault of their own.”

She added that in addition to this proposed legislation, the City Council will work to strengthen the registry the city created to keep track of negligent landlords.

“We will work to make sure that the registry is up-to-date and that there are repercussions for those negligent landlords who consistently make the list,” Corazon Pineda-Isaac said.