The TPU is comprised of four units:
The Audit/Investigatory Unit determines which landlords to audit and investigate through research, constituent outreach, and risk assessments to assure compliance with New York’s housing laws and regulations. The Audit /Investigatory unit conducts comprehensive audits, investigations and inspections to detect and determine potential landlord illegality, misrepresentations and fraud. The unit consists of auditors, investigators, and housing inspectors who collaborate with the legal and forensic units to strategize and develop a course of action to assure compliance with and enforce New York’s rent laws.
The Legal Unit works with the Audit/Investigatory Unit to proactively prevent violations of housing laws and root out fraud that impairs the rights of rent regulated tenants thereby diminishing New York’s affordable housing stock. TPU’s attorneys analyze investigations for fraud, harassment and other illegality. TPU’s attorneys enforce New York’s rent regulation laws and seek injunctive relief through negotiated settlements or litigation. The Legal Unit educates tenants on their legal rights and collaborates with community and tenant advocacy groups to consolidate efforts to end tenant harassment and other unlawful activity.
The Forensic Analysis Unit provides the necessary information to support new and ongoing audits and investigations through analyses, reports, and dashboards. Information is sourced both internally from internal agency data as well as some external sources. The Forensics Team has implemented a data warehouse containing ten years of HUTS rent data, creates ad hoc reports for the Deputy Commissioner as well as other units for analysis of particular buildings and owners, and supports the Tenant Protection Unit (TPU) Individual Audit Improvement (IAI) initiative by identifying owners/buildings/apartments to audit. In addition, the unit maintains the data collection activities and monitors current and future performance measures.
The Intergovernmental Affairs Unit is responsible for outreach to the community with a focus on communications with elected officials as well as landlord and tenant advocacy groups. The Unit conducts meetings with relevant stakeholders, including a variety of affordable housing advocates, real estate policy groups and other governmental agencies, to hear their input on the TPU’s actions and to report back on the TPU’s progress. The Unit is further responsive to elected officials and their staffs when questions arise about the TPU, and tracks TPU data based on State Senate and Assembly districts. It also monitors various related budget and legislative issues of concern to TPU, as well as holding internal agency conversations about the Unit’s work.
Contact the TPU: TPUinfo@nyshcr.org
TPU Major Initiatives
Rent Registration Initiative
Based on internal data, TPU determined that since 2009, thousands of units that had previously been registering with HCR, had disappeared from the rent registration logs without notice or explanation. TPU therefore took a proactive approach and notified owners who had failed to register their units since 2009, and required them to either re-register or provide explanation as to why the units were no longer registered. As a result, the TPU has recaptured close to 50,000 apartments that have been re-registered and added back to the rent stabilization rolls (a historic figure), saving the State $2 billion dollars in construction and rehabilitation costs for the replacement of affordable rental housing, and allowing the agency to monitor the rents for those apartments going forward.
Individual Apartment Improvement Audits (IAI)
In 2012, the TPU launched the first ever audits of owners who filed IAI increases significantly raising the rent upon vacancy within the last two years. In addition, letters were issued to owners who had provided inadequate responses to the TPU’s initial audit and request, and – for the first time – owners who failed to respond were served with subpoenas for compliance. As a result, owner groups have openly acknowledged heighten level of scrutiny of their business practices and have urged their members to update their business practices accordingly. Further, audited owners have, for the first time, entered into settlement agreements with the TPU agreeing to return money to tenants for overcharges, revise tenant leases and re-register tenant apartments with HCR under the current rents.
The Unit’s actions, along with the strengthening of the rent laws by Governor Cuomo, have turned the deregulation tide, with far fewer units now leaving the system.