Harassment of Tenants

It is a crime for a landlord to harass a tenant. If you believe are being harassed by your landlord, you can go to the police.

If you are a tenant in New York City and your landlord is harassing you, you can go to the New York City Housing Court. Tell the Court Clerk that you want to start a harassment case against the landlord. If a Judge finds that the landlord is harassing you, the court can order the landlord to stop and pay a fine.

If you are a tenant outside New York City and your landlord is harassing you, this is a defense to an eviction case.



Harassment is anything that the landlord does to try to force you to move out. Examples of harassment:

  • trying to hurt you
  • threatening to hurt you
  • stopping your heat and hot water or other services after you file a complaint
  • leaving your apartment in an unlivable condition
  • taking you to court for nothing over and over again
  • removing the door or changing the lock of the apartment without giving you a key
  • offering you money to move in an abusive way (like cursing, coming to your job, calling at odd hours, or lying to you)


New York City "Buy-Outs"

In New York City, if the landlord offers you money to move out of rent-regulated housing, this is called a buy-out. The landlord must give you a letter first saying:

  • that the landlord wants to buy you out
  • that you can say no
  • that you can speak to a lawyer
  • that you can find help on the HPD website
  • that you can tell the landlord to stop offering you a buy-out for a period of 180 days if you write a letter

The landlord must tell you this in writing each time the landlord makes an offer after at least 180 days has passed since the last written notice.

If you write a letter to the landlord saying stop offering a buy-out and the landlord doesn’t stop, it is harassment. For 180 days the landlord/owner can’t offer you a buy-out unless you tell him or her in writing it’s OK, or the Court says it’s OK.

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