NYC Leaves Tenants Behind

J. Justin Wilson
J. Justin Wilson · March 21, 2017

Arlington, Va.—Over the weekend, Mayor Bill de Blasio allowed the Nuisance Abatement Fairness Act to pass into law. The Act overhauls a city ordinance that is the target of a class action lawsuit filed by the Institute for Justice. Robert Everett Johnson, an attorney at the Institute for Justice, which represents the plaintiffs, issued the following statement in response:

For years, the NYPD has used the city’s draconian no-fault eviction ordinance to force innocent New Yorkers to sign agreements giving up their constitutional rights. The Institute for Justice sued to end that practice, and now the city has capitulated—at least with respect to future cases. But these reforms do nothing for thousands of New Yorkers who were targeted in the past.

It is great that the Mayor and City Council saw the need for this weekend’s reforms. These reforms provide basic constitutional safeguards—such as the right to a court hearing before being evicted by the NYPD, as well as the right to raise innocence as a defense—that never should have been denied in the first place.

But the city still needs to make things right for the thousands of New Yorkers who were forced into agreements waiving their constitutional rights before these reforms were enacted, and who will continue to be subject to those agreements after these reforms go into effect. For New Yorkers subject to those agreements, this weekend’s reforms only underscore the injustice of their situation.

Because this weekend’s reforms do not finish the job, the Institute for Justice will press forward with its lawsuit. The lawsuit seeks a court order barring the city from enforcing these unconstitutionally coercive agreements, which could not be obtained under the reforms and never should have been obtained at all.

The city recognizes that it made a mistake, and now the city must be forced to fix it.