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Budget, Education & City Services

Resolution on the Department of Housing Preservation and Development's Emergency Repair Program

At the monthly meeting of Community Board Five on Thursday, January 17, 2013, the Board passed the following resolution by a vote of 37 in favor; 0 opposed; 1 abstaining:

WHEREAS, It is a private owner's responsibility to timely and properly correct HPD violations and HPD attempts to contact the validly registered owner by mail and phone when an immediately hazardous (Class C) violation is issued; and

WHEREAS, If the owner fails to correct the class C violations, the City may perform, or contract for, emergency repairs to correct the violation at the owner's expense; and

WHEREAS, The City is subject to laws governing procurement, contracting, wages, and other matters that may make such work significantly more expensive than the price that the owner could obtain if he/she performs or contracts for the work; and

WHEREAS, The City will bill the property owner through the Department of Finance for the cost of the emergency repair plus related fees and/or for the cost of sending a contractor to attempt to make repairs; and

WHEREAS, If the owner fails to pay, the City will file a tax lien against the property that  will bear interest and may be sold and/or foreclosed to collect the amount owed; and

WHEREAS, Failure to correct violations may also result in civil penalties imposed by the housing court; and

WHEREAS, the Citizens Housing and Planning Council has found compelling evidence that hazardous conditions in one building have a significant and adverse impact on adjacent buildings and the surrounding community; and

WHEREAS, The current interest rate charges on ERP liens seven percent (7%) and the forty percent (40%) administrate cost for repairs up to $25,000 have proven woefully inadequate as a method to incentivize rental property owners to ensure adequate physical maintenance; and

WHEREAS, The City only recoups about half of the ERP lien value when packaged and auctioned; and

WHEREAS, When a rental property owner disregards the law through failure to prevent hazardous conditions not only are tenants in the aforementioned building harmed, but all city residents are harmed as we devote scarce municipal resources to undertake inspections and make repairs for which the City has only been able to recoup about half the cost; and

WHEREAS, Reducing the overhead costs of inspection and repairs frees up city dollars to invest in our city's human capital affordable housing stock and other vital programs; and

WHEREAS, HPD believes that increasing the ERP lien interest rate to eighteen percent (18%) would more successfully incentivize building upkeep; therefore be it

RESOLVED, Manhattan Community Board Five strongly urges the New York City Council to deter bad behavior of rental property owners in an effort to protect tenants and reduce burden on the city budget through the following means: 

A.     Increase the Emergency Repair Program lien interest rate from seven percent (7%) to eighteen percent (18%); and

B.     Reassess the forty percent (40%) of repair cost cap on fees HPD can charge; and

C.     Remove the $25,000 cap of what can be charged by the city for the emergency repair.  

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