Governor Pataki Issues Executive Order for Tenant Protection

Statement issued by the Office of Governor Pataki
June 14, 1997

Renews Call on Speaker Silver to Back Down from Plans to Let Rent Control Expire

Governor George E. Pataki today issued an Executive Order to protect tenant s from dishonest landlords in the event Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver follows through on his st ated intention to let rent control protections expire for millions of New Yorkers on Sunday rather than negotiate a solution.

"Speaker Silver has said time and again that he would rather let the rent l aws expire than compromise. That is wrong. He is wrong," Governor Pataki said. "Mr. Silver must act responsibly and back away from his plans to kill rent protections for millions of New Yorker s on Sunday.

"My plan saves rent control protections for all but the wealthiest few. I w ant to protect tenants," the Governor said. "If Mr. Silver lets the rent laws expire, it is cle ar he is using tenants as political pawns. That is wrong.

"But we must be prepared to protect tenants from dishonest landlords in cas e Mr. Silver allows the rent laws to expire," Governor Pataki. "Let me make it perfectly clea r that any landlord who seeks to take advantage of their tenants will pay the consequences."

Governor Pataki's Executive Order:

Appoints the Attorney General as Special Prosecutor to investigate and pros ecute tenant harassment by dishonest landlords in cooperation with local district attorn eys in the event Speaker Silver allows the rent laws to lapse. The Attorney General shall ap point deputies and assistants as necessary;

Directs the Division of Housing and Community Renewal to establish a 24-ho ur, toll-free hotline to handle tenant complaints of illegal conduct by building owners o r their agents. Complaints must be forwarded to the Special Prosecutor. The hotline phone n umber is 1- 888-RENT-HLP (1-888-736-8457);

Requests that the Chief Judge and Chief Administrative Judge of the New Yor k State Unified Court System temporarily assign judges and other necessary personnel to the Housing Part of the Civil Court of the City of New York and to other courts throughout t he State, particularly in Westchester, Nassau, Rockland and Erie counties. This move is designed to ensure that complaints by tenants against building owners are heard as expe ditiously as possible; and Directs the Division of Housing and Community Renewal to continue processin g administrative complaints by tenants against building owners despite the la pse of the rent regulation laws, paying special attention to complaints of tenant harassmen t and conditions affecting the health or safety of building residents.

"The right to live in peace in one's own home is fundamental to the American way of life," Governor Pataki said. "No one should suffer the indignity of being illegally forced from their home.

"Illegal acts by building owners that threaten the security of a person's home are reprehensible crimes and must be taken seriously by all public officials, particularly those charged with prosecuting the law," the Governor said.

"I hope it never comes to this. I hope Speaker Silver will recognize that his decision to kill rent control rather than compromise in a way that protects tenants is wrong," Governor Pataki said.

"I will continue to urge him to accept my plan, which protects more than 99 percent of all tenants, maintains the broad rights of succession for family members and loved ones, cracks down on dishonest landlords and encourages more housing opportunities for all New Yorkers."