By Maria Rocha-Buschel
Rent stabilized tenants often feel they’re at the mercy of landlords who would, if given the opportunity, replace them with someone paying market rate. Contributing to that fear in some cases that have recently attracted some media attention are specialists who are hired by owners and have used what local elected officials are calling unscrupulous tactics to get tenants to leave, with no regulations on their practices.
In an attempt to protect tenants from aggressive buy-out offers or other efforts aimed at intimidation, Councilmember Dan Garodnick introduced a bill at the end of February that would impose certain restrictions on these so-called “tenant relocation specialists.”
“Tenants need to be able to feel safe and secure in their homes and that is impossible if they’re being pursued relentlessly by someone whose job is to get them out,” Garodnick said. “They’ve used harassment, false offers and intimidation to remove tenants who are usually rent stabilized so that owners can financially benefit.”
The bill outlines a number of rules that these specialists would have to follow, including licensing and taking an exam to make sure they are knowledgeable about the rules and laws.