On June 28, 2016, Mayor Bill de Blasio signed into law Intro 851, a commercial tenant anti-harassment bill that gives commercial tenants legal recourse against landlords who engage in harassment tactics, such as controlling the use of water or electricity or neglecting to make timely repairs. In the past, commercial tenants did not have these legal protections, and thus such tactics impacted their ability to operate their businesses. The bill was also sponsored by New York City Council Member Robert Cornegy, Chair of the Council's Committee on Small Business.
Volunteers of Legal Service (VOLS) advocated for the bill as a member of United for Small Business NYC, a coalition of organizations serving small businesses. VOLS also played a role in helping to draft the specific legal language in the bill that establishes rights and protections for New York's most vulnerable small business owners.
VOLS, jointly with United for Small Business NYC, is also leading the call for City-funded legal services that will aid commercial tenants in using these new legal protections against unscrupulous landlords.