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Landlords On NYC's Tenant Harassment List Sue City

167 Waverly Ave., owned by an entity controlled by Delshah Capital, is one of the buildings on the city's list of properties where tenants have been harassed, according to lawsuits filed by Delshah's DS Brooklyn Portfloio Owner LLC.

Entities linked to four prominent New York City landlords sued the city, seeking removal from a program they say forces them to prove their tenants weren't harassed and can hurt the value of their properties.

Companies belonging to GPG Management, Delshah Capital, Benjamin Shaoul and Stellar Management filed eight lawsuits against the city, claiming that its Certificate of No Harassment Pilot Program Building List is unfair, The Real Deal reported.

Complaints filed with the New York County Supreme Court on Tuesday against the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development allege obtaining a CONH takes 12 to 16 months and that buildings placed on the list lose 30% of their value.

Through their lawyers, landlords also alleged that the city’s process for placing buildings on the list is “mired in secrecy, after a non-judicial unilateral decision made by HPD with non-public information.”

Once on the list, building owners cannot seek demolition or major alteration permits for the affected property for five years unless they commit to making 25% of apartments available to low-income residents.

The CONH Program, which was introduced in 2018, includes buildings on a public list if a court or agency concludes tenants were harassed or if the NYC Department of Housing Preservation determines that a building is significantly distressed. 

Landlords can also wind up on the list via HPD’s Building Qualification Index, which scores buildings based on records of hazardous violations, dangerous conditions under the emergency repair program, records of liens with HPD for repairs or changes in ownership in the last five years.

Index scores aren't public, a lawyer for the landlords told The Real Deal. If a building that is on the CONH Pilot Building List sells, the new owner inherits the building’s status, according to The Real Deal.

“It is like you are guilty first, and then you have to prove yourself innocent,” Kucker Marino Winiarsky & Bittens attorney Joseph Goldsmith, who represents the landlords in the eight suits, told The Real Deal. “There’s a giant cloud placed over these buildings.

The city council voted to expand the no harassment program last year from the 11 community districts covered by the program to all five boroughs, City Limits reported

HPD stood firmly by the program in a statement provided to The Real Deal, saying that the CONH program “is one of our many tools for holding landlords accountable.”