NEW YORK CITY—Mayor Bill de Blasio used his State of the City speech at the Symphony Space Theatre on Jan. 10 to sign an executive order on stage to seize property from landlords. He promised the measure would “root out the worst landlord abuse.”
Seats were limited, ears kept busy by The Clash and other eccentric beats and all the time special guests sat, and waited patiently on stage for the mayor.
Chief Chaplain Rabbi Dr. Alvin Mass, of the New York City Police Department, opened the event by honoring New York City’s achievements, such as its keeping the crime at a record low rate, and closed it with a quote from the Bible. Before giving the stage to firefighter Regina Willson to sing God Bless America, he spoke about his hope to see the mayor continue to carry the burden of leading the city on his shoulders—suggesting the Rabbi may be a fan of The Simpsons animated TV series.
Following the First Lady’s speech, the mayor made his appearance. His speech paired well with the Rabbi’s: the mayor honored firefighters, police officers, and others—weaving their incredible achievements through his praises—and ended the praise on a bittersweet note in honor of firefighter Steven H. Pollard, who lost his life in the line of duty. A moment of silence was held.
New Year Welcomes New Regulations
Messages of guaranteed health care, tenant protection, and forced paid time off appeared on screen, one by one next to the mayor.
The mayor signed an executive order on stage, creating a new office in the city government that can seize property from landlords. He described it as a “new arm of city government that will root out the worst landlord abuse.”
“The city’s worst landlords will have a new sheriff to fear,” @NYCMayor @BilldeBlasio says in State of the City address. Then: “We will seize their buildings, and we will put them on the hands of a community nonprofit!” pic.twitter.com/CojxSLxjXa
— Matthew Chayes (@chayesmatthew) January 10, 2019
“We’ll fine the landlords, we’ll penalize the landlords but, if the fine and the penalties don’t cut it, we will seize their buildings,” de Blasio said.
According to the mayor, some landlords make the condition of their tenant’s homes unlivable in order to push them out.
In an email to The Epoch Times, Real Estate Board of New York President John. H. Banks expressed his support for the mayor’s decision in granting the city government powers to punish unlawful landlords. He said, “Seizing property is the most extreme type of enforcement,” but owners must have the right to fight the government’s decision.
The executive order the mayor signed on stage a few moments ago. Bad landlords, this is your notice! pic.twitter.com/r4qX52Lkj9
— Eric Phillips (@EricFPhillips) January 10, 2019
Private Property Right Upheld
Banks touched on a core American value: the right to private property. The fifth amendment of the Bill of Rights confirms ownership of private property cannot be removed without just compensation.
There are cases of where the government seizes private property called asset forfeiture. According to the FBI, this is used against criminals and criminal organizations to “deprive them of their ill-gotten gains through seizure of these assets.”
The mayor plans to seize 40 buildings from the “most distressed multiple dwelling buildings annually” and give them to responsible owners, according to a press release.
Neither a detailed explanation of the new office was provided, nor an explanation on how cases between the landlord and tenant will be investigated. He described the unlawful landlord as someone who makes the tenant’s home unlivable. What exactly qualifies a property as unlivable was not specified.