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Inside NYC's anti-harassment unit cracking down on the city’s worst landlords

Posted at 7:57 PM, Nov 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-25 12:48:03-05

NEW YORK — If you don’t have heat or hot water, or your landlord isn’t making repairs in your apartment during the pandemic, the city’s anti-harassment unit wants to know about it.

The NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development’s Anti-Harassment Unit is busy, even during the pandemic. Their mission is to crack down on the city’s worst private landlords.

Grace Defina helps oversees this special unit. Defina said her team has full-time lawyers and responds to tenant harassment claims across the city.

Their main focus: complaints about heat and hot water. Last year, HPD handled over one million heat and hot water inspections city-wide.

“If you have no heat, it’s terrible. But if you are home schooling your kids, it makes it that much worse,” said Defina.

Read more from the city here

COVID-19 has changed the way the team operates, but hasn’t slowed them down. Now, inspectors wear masks and gloves.

They also stay socially distant from tenants.

Since April of last year, the team has issued over $212,000 in civil penalties.

If you're in need, call 311 or email them direct at