As a result of New York City’s (“NYC”) Department of Housing Preservation and Development (“HPD”) programs, certain residential building owners must now complete an application for and receive a Certification of No Harassment (“CONH”) as a prerequisite to applying for any permit which would change the use or occupancy of their building or to demolish their building, in whole or in part. The purpose of the CONH is to protect residential tenants in designated areas of New York City from harassment or eviction.
The CONH requirements, which are codified under NYC’s Local Law and Administrative Code applies to: (i) single room occupancy multiple dwellings; (ii) multiple dwellings in certain geographic areas as designated by the NYC Zoning Resolution and (iii) other multiple dwellings specifically designated by HPD as being high-risk for tenant harassment.
The CONH process is designed to ensure that owners or potential purchasers of such designated properties do not harass, influence, or otherwise cause lawful occupants to vacate the property by “harassing” such occupants. HPD has a broad interpretation of harassment, which includes, but is not limited to, creating unfavorable living conditions, depriving tenants from essential services and even literal harassment.
Upon receipt of an application, HPD will notify the local officials and community and building members and undergo a thorough investigation to determine if any harassment occurred at the property. If HPD has reasonable cause to believe harassment occurred, they will refer the matter to the Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings (“OATH”) to determine the facts of what occurred and will thereafter provide their recommendation on the issuance of the CONH to HPD. Ultimately, if the CONH is issued, the permit application for the construction can move forward, however, if the CONH is denied, the owners are prohibited from taking out a construction permit for at least three years.
Overall, the CONH process has many intricacies and should not be taken lightly as it could have serious consequences.