Overview

The Coalition Against Tenant Harassment (CATHnyc) is comprised of community organizations from around the City who are fighting against the displacement of low-income tenants through grassroots organizing and by promoting new tools to prevent tenant harassment.

The Project

Many landlords resort to harassment and other illegal tactics, especially in rent-stabilized apartments, since getting long-term tenants out gives the landlord the opportunity to renovate the apartment, raise the rent (which often takes it out of rent-stabilization entirely), and increase their profits with higher-paying tenants. This process is displacing low-income tenants from their homes all over New York City.

CATHnyc won a huge victory at the end of 2017, with the passage of a law establishing a Certificate of No Harassment (CONH) pilot program. CONH is designed to disincentivize tenant harassment by turning harassment from a tool landlords use to increase profits into a liability that can actually limit future profits.

CATHnyc is now working in buildings and communities throughout the city to maximize the impact of this new law through tenant education and organizing, and will work closely with elected officials, community boards, and government agencies to track results and look for ways to further improve and expand upon this important new program. 

Click here for the Pilot Program Building List. What does it mean if your building is on the Pilot Program list? What can you do to get your building added to the Pilot Program? Stay tuned for more information on this!

Be sure to check out our collaboration with the Center for Urban Pedagogy, Is Your Landlord Harassing You or Your Neighbors? an illustrated, fold-out poster about the Certificate of No Harassment program. Download your copy here.

For Tenants

What is Harassment?

Harassment is unfortunately a common experience for tenants in New York City. It can come in many forms, including:

  • Threats and intimidation
  • Lack of repairs and denial of essential services like heat and hot water
  • Repeated buyout offers
  • Taking tenants to housing court for no good reason
  • Misinformation from the landlord about your rights

For a more thorough list of common forms of harassment, see this handout.

One of the most important things tenants can do when experiencing harassment is keep track of what happens – that way you have proof to use in court or in an HPD investigation. Here is a toolkit that tenants can use to keep track of different kinds of harassment you might experience.

Usually if one tenant is being harassed, others are too – so talk to your neighbors, share this information, and organize together to fight back! For help organizing against harassment in your building, contact a tenant organizing group in your neighborhood.

If your building is included in the CONH Pilot Program, having evidence of harassment is how you will be make sure there are consequences for the landlord – if you prove harassment, you can block the landlord from getting renovation permits in your building.

If your building is not included in the CONH Pilot Program, proving a harassment in housing court or with a City or State agency is the surest way to get your building added!

For Organizers

CONH is a new tool for organizers and tenants to use in the fight against harassment. It has a lot of potential to prevent landlord harassment in the future, and punish landlord harassment that has already occurred – but it will only be as effective as we make it!

The Coalition Against Tenant Harassment is providing support and coordination to help tenant organizers in their building organizing work, to coordinate advocacy with the City, and to lay the groundwork for a future campaign to expand and strengthen CONH. Join us!

  • Training Curricula
  • Tools for Tracking Tenant Harassment
  • More Information about CONH & Proving Harassment

For Lawyers

Lawyers who work with tenants and community organizing groups have a crucial role to play in fighting back against harassment, and making the CONH Pilot Program a success!

CATHnyc fought for and WON changes to the legal definition of harassment to make these cases easier to prove. We also fought for more serious consequences to landlords (including automatic inclusion into the CONH pilot program), and expanded options for tenant compensation. Now we need tenant lawyers to work with us to bring cases, file counterclaims, and pursue harassment findings as part of a larger organizing strategy.

Here is the updated legal definition of Harassment.

To arrange for a training for your staff or to join CATHnyc, contact Malika Conner.

Faces of Displacement

18th Street, Manhattan

Cynthia Chaffee moved into her current apartment on 18th Street in the fall of 1978 with her husband Peter. At the time it was owned by Beth Israel Hospital and despite being an institution for the public good, Beth Israel proved to be an inhospitable landlord, attempting on numerous occasions to force the Chaffee's out of their building by means of legal harassment.

In 1999, on the brink of eviction, Cynthia's building, a walk-up on the north end of the East Village, was purchased by the notorious Steven Croman for $7.5 million in cash. Harassment began immediately. Croman was vigilant in withholding heat and water, ignoring repairs, enlisting strong-arm supers, and breaking up tenant associations. Surmounting the other abuses was his use of the courts to bankrupt tenants. He used HP Actions, direct law suits, and Housing Court actions, eleven of which the Chaffee's were subject to. The Chaffee's have fought back by forming the Stop Croman Coalition in an effort to unite Croman tenants citywide. 

Follow our campaign and these #FacesofDisplacement stories on Instagram. If you’d like to share your story of displacement, contact Malika Conner.

Related Resources

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News & Media

Blog
October 12, 2018
City Launches Anti-Harassment Program with Release of List of More Than 1,000 Buildings with 26,000 Units
Blog
November 30, 2017
The Coalition Against Tenant Harassment is thrilled that Certificate of No Harassment (CONH) legislation passed in City Council today. An expansion of CONH beyond the Clinton Special District has been a goal in numerous community campaigns for decades, and our coalition in particular has organized and advocated for the past several years to make this program a reality.