State Senator Zellnor Myrie wants the illegal conversion of units in a building to be defined as tenant harassment under the law.

By expanding the definition of tenant harassment to include illegally altering or modifying an existing building to create additional units, he says the state “will help protect New York City’s stock of affordable housing” amidst a housing crisis that was exacerbated by the pandemic.

“Before I was a Senator, I was — and still am — a tenant organizer here in Brooklyn,” Myrie said in a statement. “Housing that is safe, affordable and in good repair is a human right, and I’ll always work to protect renters in every corner of our district and this State.”

The change in definition, S.280, was introduced and recently passed by the Senate Committee on Housing, Construction and Community Development. It was passed alongside a second bill introduced by Myrie: S.7357, which requires NYCHA to quickly restore gas when there are outages on its properties. The bill would also authorize financial penalties for utility companies who cannot demonstrate good-faith efforts to restore service. As of March 2, NYCHA was reporting partial or total gas outages at 59 developments across the city, some dating back to June 2021, Myrie said.

“When I met with residents at Langston Hughes houses in Brownsville last year, I promised to introduce legislation to address the long-term gas outages they had been facing,” Myrie said. He said the committee’s passage of the bill made it clear that “no one should be without gas or other essential utilities for months on end.”

The two bills will now go before the full Senate and the Assembly. Myrie said he looked forward to passing them into law this year.

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Anna Bradley-Smith

Anna Bradley-Smith is Brooklyn-based reporter with bylines in NBC, VICE, Slate and others. Follow her on Twitter @annabradsmith.

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