The City Council unanimously passed legislation Wednesday that's supposed to make it easier for tenants to identify who owns their buildings. Right now, landlords are required to register with the city but often they do so using P.O. boxes and limited liability companies.
City Councilwoman Melissa Mark Viverito sponsored the legislation and says it requires anyone with at least 25 percent ownership in a building to list their name, address and phone number. "It doesn't allow the landlords to hide behind their companies," she says. "It allows the residents, on their end, to be empowered to be able to hold someone accountable and to contact someone directly when it comes to problems that they may be having."
Housing advocates consider the new law a victory. David Hanzel from the Association for Neighborhood Housing and Development says right now landlords often hide behind limited liability corporations and P.O. boxes:
"I think anybody who owns a property and is renting to tenants should make themselves known and should provide contact information where they could be reached or an accountable party could be reached," he says.
The Rent Stabilization Association calls the new law unnecessary and says the city already requires the names of corporate officers and an emergency contact.